Has Martin Jol's time at Fulham come to an end?

Sports Mole takes a look at Martin Jol's spell at Fulham to consider whether it is time for it to come to an end.

"Martin Jol understands my vision for the club, and believes in what we are striving to achieve here. Now we have a long-term manager."

These were the words of former Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed when Martin Jol was appointed as manager. As well as being a swipe at former boss Mark Hughes, they suggested that an era of improvement or at least stability was to come. Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the right man may well have managed his last game for Fulham.

What went wrong? Jol said himself after Fulham's disastrous 3-0 defeat to fellow strugglers West Ham United that it was no longer in his hands whether he remains at the helm. Whether it has been a lack of investment or poor man-management or even a combination of both, Fulham are very unlikely to recover from their predicament under the Dutchman.

Manager Martin Jol of Fulham looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Cardiff City at Craven Cottage on September 28, 2013© Getty Images

Jol's predecessor Hughes, now of Stoke City, struggled initially but guided Fulham to a very good eighth-place in the Premier League come the end of the season. This followed two successful years under Roy Hodgson, which even included a major European final. The stage was set for success, but instead the club are staring relegation in the face with just 10 points from 13 games.

It took seven games for Jol to get his first win, which was the 6-0 thrashing of local rivals Queens Park Rangers, and the results, just as during his last Premier League managerial stint at Tottenham Hotspur, were inconsistent. Some poor results, such as a 3-1 home defeat to Everton, were mixed in with quite the opposite, including a 5-2 win over Newcastle United, but Fulham did not move up the table until the final third of the season and they ultimately finished ninth.

Now was the time to properly judge Jol. There was enough in the final part of the season to suggest that with the right players his system could prove successful enough to keep Fulham in the top half of the league. With Clint Dempsey scoring goals for fun from the left and Moussa Dembele the link from deep in midfield to attack, Fulham were balanced, attacking and strong. But therein was the first major problem.

Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States Men's National Team in action against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium on September 10, 2013© Getty Images

At the very start of the 2012-13 season Fulham were arguably playing their best football of the Premier League era. With Dembele outmuscling most opponents and a new roaming forward in Mladen Petric, who was dangerous from range and could put himself about up top, Fulham were clicking. They beat Norwich City 5-0 in a breathtaking display of total football and at times outplayed Manchester United in an unlucky 3-2 defeat.

Then came transfer deadline day. Both Dembele and Dempsey went to Spurs, while Dimitar Berbatov arrived from Manchester United in a move that was down to his having played for Jol in the past. Although Berbatov was scoring, Fulham's system had holes. The guaranteed 10 goals a season from Dempsey were no longer there and the central midfield was suddenly lacking the link to the forwards. Soon the results dried up as Fulham were found out.

He has cited that he has been unable to replace the two Dems after many of his defeats, but the fact remains that this is not a good enough excuse. He has had the time to alter his system, to move from the two deep midfielders that was so successful with Dembele, to devise a system more suited to the players he has available, but he has failed.

Dimitar Berbatov© Getty Images

From November 2012 to the end of last season Fulham won just seven games, which included a run of six defeats from seven at the end of the term. Although Fulham survived because of their form earlier in the season it was clear that over the summer investment was needed, with a creative midfielder and a genuine goalscorer desperately needed.

Al Fayed sold the club to Shahid Khan before the season started and Jol claimed that he brought in the players that he wanted. Maarten Stekelenburg came in as well as Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent on loan. In a season before a World Cup, bringing in Bent seemed a good move and Taarabt is certainly a creative spark, but Jol's new problem was fitting them into the system with two deep midfielders that he has stubbornly stuck by.

It has led to square pegs in round holes, with Bryan Ruiz consistently picked on the right wing where he is less than ineffective as well as Bent leading the line - a role that goes against all his good attributes. Even bringing in Rene Meulensteen as head coach has yet to see improved performances. It has now surely got to the point where change is needed if only to provide motivation to the Whites' desperate, ageing squad.

United coach Rene Meulensteen on the training ground on March 4, 2013© Getty Images

It is too early to speculate whether Khan will provide backing in the transfer market, but if he does not then Fulham are in serious trouble. There will not be too many managers willing to take over from Jol, should he be sacked, unless they are promised funds in January.

With two thirds of the season remaining and 75 points still up for grabs there is still time for Fulham to turn their season around. But all the signs are suggesting that they will not do so with Jol still at the club. Khan and his board are left with very little choice but to make drastic changes. Right now.

Mohamed Diame of West Ham United celebrates the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Fulham at Boleyn Ground on November 30, 2013
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