Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'TWO MORE PIECES AND MY FULHAM PUZZLE WILL BE PERFECT'; Martin Jol Is Well on the Way to Realising His Dream as He Bids to Create a Team That Will Be Challenging for Europe Rather Than Worrying about Relegation. by David Smith

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'TWO MORE PIECES AND MY FULHAM PUZZLE WILL BE PERFECT'; Martin Jol Is Well on the Way to Realising His Dream as He Bids to Create a Team That Will Be Challenging for Europe Rather Than Worrying about Relegation. by David Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

CRAVEN COTTAGE reeks of history. The timeline of the site of Fulham's Thamesside ground suggests that Anne Boleyn once hunted here before renowned football stadium architect Archibald Leitch built the now listed Johnny Haynes Stand and the iconic Cottage Pavilion during the reign of Edward VII.

But brush away the metaphorical cobwebs and a bright future is revealed.

A planning application has been lodged for the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand with the aim of increasing the venue's capacity to 30,000. And Karim Fayed, son of club owner Mohamed Al Fayed, was recently appointed vice-chairman in a move that suggests the family view their stewardship of Fulham as a longterm proposition.

On the pitch, meanwhile, manager Martin Jol is masterminding a quiet revolution aimed at expunging an ethos based entirely on survival in the Premier League and replacing it with a creed of wanting to compete against the very best. clean 46 games Nearly 10 months into the job, and on Monday facing one of the biggest tests in domestic football, a Premier League game at Manchester United, this is a good time for Jol to assess the progress of his stated mission to sink new foundations to support a more sustainable, and successful, playing structure.

"Overall, I am a happy customer," said Jol. The big Dutchman's grasp of English colloquialism may not be as strong as his knowledge of the game but he knows enough of the language to make his views, and ambitions, clearly understood.

"We are doing okay, if we are being realistic," the former Tottenham and Ajax manager went on. "But, if you want to do fantastic things, we still need two or three little pieces of the puzzle to make it perfect. That is what I am trying to do. I want to create a team that can do better than Fulham have done over the past decade."

His wish could come true this season.

Fulham are 12th in the table on 36 points, 17 shy of their record haul achieved under Roy Hodgson in 2008-09 when the club also finished seventh -- their highest placing.

There are nine games left this term, so Jol could create his own club history at the first time of asking. Such an achievement is unlikely, however, if his side continue to fail as they did at home against Swansea City last weekend.

Reflecting on that disappointment, in which Fulham were easily beaten at their own passing game by Brendan Rodgers's well-drilled team, Jol said: "If you have five or six new players you always have to wait to see if they can adapt to your culture, to Fulham's culture.

sheets in in all "Sometimes you take a step forward with your style and sometimes you take a step back, like we probably did against Swansea."

Jol refused to offer the excuse that Fulham's Europa League adventure, which began at the end of June, meant his squad had endured 46 competitive matches to Swansea's 32. …

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