Fulham’s new double-Dutch era, with the former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen having joined fellow countryman Martin Jol, is off to a bad start, raising the question of how long it will last. Boos and chants of “we want Jol out” were heard after this fifth successive defeat in all competitions, during which 15 goals have been shipped.
It would not be a logical time to make a change, while the highly regarded Meulensteen was getting his feet under the coaches’ table, but logic is not always applied in these matters. Jol can be given credit for bravery in pushing so hard – he asked him three times – for such an obvious successor-in-waiting to be appointed as his No 2.
Improvement is required quickly if Fulham are not to remain in danger of losing their Premier League status after 12 years. They remain in the bottom three and have only once this season scored more than one goal, in the slightly freakish 4-1 win at Crystal Palace when Dimitar Berbatov registered his only League goal in more than 15 hours of football.
Swansea were initially ponderous by their own high standards, their passing in a dull first half lacking that familiar crispness, but they picked up the pace with shorter, sharper first-time stuff later. Ben Davies, the full-back, and Roland Lamah, a Belgium international, rampaged down the left and even after Scott Parker equalised an own goal by Aaron Hughes, they looked the more likely winners, an outcome secured by Jonjo Shelvey’s fine goal after coming on as a substitute.
Swansea have recently been on a run of draws and before yesterday’s game the table might have suggested they were one of the “six or seven teams” Jol believes are worse than Fulham. The evidence here contradicted him. “It’s not the nicest period of my life, but it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” he said.
Reaching half-time level was progress of sort for Fulham, who had been three goals down in their previous two games, with Manchester United and Liverpool. They would have been ahead but for two misses by Darren Bent, who headed wide from Parker’s perfect chip and then hit a post when played clear by Chico Flores’s misdirected header.
Swansea were better throughout the second half taking the lead when Lamah’s cross was inadvertently turned home by Hughes. The equaliser was something of a surprise, Parker’s first goal for anyone in more than two years being a curled cross-shot when the ball was played to him from a short corner. Shelvey scored from 20 yards 10 minutes from the end and should have added a third but delayed far too long.
Fulham (4-3-1-2): Stekelenburg; Zverotic. Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson; Parker (Taarabt, 85), Boateng (Sidwell, 59); Ruiz (Kacaniklic, 76); Berbatov; Bent.
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Flores, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Canas, Lamah (Tiendalli, 85); Dyer (Shelvey, 58), Bony, Pozuelo (Vazquez, 89).
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Davies (Swansea)
Match rating: 6/10