Martin Jol said that he does not know whether he will be in charge of Fulham’s next match, against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, after his side were torn apart 3-0 by West Ham United at Upton Park.
“It’s out of my hands,” the clearly morose manager said when asked about his future, and also admitted that the concern has been there for “the last few months”.
West Ham, by contrast, got a first win in six and their manager, Sam Allardyce, could speak happily about pulling away from danger. “Everyone goes home happy and we’re a bit more comfortable about our position,” Allardyce said, before warning that his team cannot “rest on their laurels” as they seek to win back-to-back games for the first time in a long while when they make the short journey to Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
His team did start as though they had a point to prove – and three they badly needed to win – only for their recent shortcomings to gradually become apparent once again. Their main issue is as obvious as the acres of space in and around the opposition box: they still badly miss their striker Andy Carroll, but continue to play as if someone of his stature is on the pitch.
There were a number of occasions in the first half where West Ham did work the ball into dangerous areas, only for the lack of a good finisher to see Fulham go unpunished. Not long before half-time Matt Jarvis managed to reach Kevin Nolan with a cross, but the midfielder went for acrobatics rather than accuracy.
His flamboyance suggested he was playing for a team who were scoring a multitude of goals, not one who had only netted twice in their previous six games. While they did hit three in one half yesterday, these only came after a complete transformation in their mood.
As the game reached the break, Fulham had offered nothing going forward, while West Ham’s inability to produce anything tangible seemed to chip away at their confidence. The fear factor Allardyce referred to after the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea last week suddenly seemed very relevant.
That is why the deflection off Fernando Amorebieta from Mohamed Diamé’s 47th-minute strike did so much more than just guide the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg. West Ham suddenly looked confident again, producing meaningful, dangerous shots in the box. Jarvis, Stewart Downing and Ravel Morrison should all have added to the tally before Carlton Cole eventually scored the second with less than 10 minutes to go.
That West Ham required a deflection to inspire their revival revealed a lot. Allardyce referred to a “bit of luck” but felt his team deserved it for their work. In contrast, Jol described it as “hammer blow”.
More worryingly for the Dutch manager, Fulham couldn’t seem to damage West Ham in any way. This was far removed from their rousing football at the start of last season. There was absolutely no link-up in attack, which admittedly was missing the ill Dimitar Berbatov, and the side currently look less than the sum of their parts.
It got worse. Jol described the last 10 minutes as “symbolic” of everything that was going wrong. With Kieran Richardson suffering a hamstring injury and his manager looking to take him off, West Ham worked the ball to Carlton Cole, on as a substitute, in the 82nd minute, and he turned the ball in. Jol had his head in his hands.
“The second goal was almost too easy, on the left, they get through,” he said afterwards. “We lacked a bit of mental and physical toughness.”
West Ham soon charged over them altogether with Joe Cole coming off the bench to add a smooth third just before the end.
“I think the only disappointing thing for me today was that we didn’t score more before the subs came on,” Allardyce said.
“That was something I was getting pretty nervous about, because we all know at 1-0, the way we are at the minute, Fulham could capitalise on something they didn’t deserve.
“When the subs came on and finished the game for us, it’s great for you as a manager, that you’ve got the victory you were searching for.
“Results and goals have been difficult to come by and we scored three today, and we could have scored more.”
Fulham have now lost six consecutive games, which Jol says is his worst-ever run. “That is why we are in the bottom three,” the beleaguered manager said. “That will happen if we can’t get the points.”
“I’ve got maybe seven, eight, 900 games [in my career as] as a manager. I know three points can give you a total different view.”
The key question is whether he will be around for another game to deliver them.
West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Tomkins, McCartney; Downing, Noble, Diamé, Nolan (Morrison, 78), Jarvis (C Cole, 68); Maiqa (J Cole).
Fulham (formation 4-4-2): NStekelenburg; Zverotic, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson; Taarabt, Sidwell (Karagounis, 78), Parker, Duff (Ruiz, 65); Kasami, Bent.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the match: Diamé (West Ham)
Match rating: 6/10