Friday Football Feature: Jol shows Hughes how far he’s come


Martin Jol has settled in superbly with Fulham FC, gaining admirers up and down the country for his free-flowing West London club side.


By James Dickenson

Martin Jol’s last act in English football before returning to the Premier League last summer as Fulham manager was to be handed his P45 by Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

The Spurs supremo sought it fit to fire the Dutch manager and replace him with Spaniard Juane Ramos, despite nearly four years improvement in control at the White Hart Lane club.

As Spurs were plotting Jol’s exit from North London – offering Ramos his job in a Spanish hotel – Mark Hughes was making a name for himself as manager at Blackburn Rovers, picking up the Premier League manager of the month award in October 2007.

Hughes moved across Lancashire to take the reins at cash rich Manchester City at the end of that season, splashing out a British transfer record £32.5m on Brazilian star Robinho after the club was taken over by Abu-Dhabi owners.

As Hughes had money at his disposal and a fantastic selection of playing talent at Eastlands, Jol was back on the continent plying his trade at German outfit Hamburg.

A campaign full of hope for both followed, as Jol led HSV to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and the German League Cup, whilst the pressure mounted on Hughes as he continued to supplement his squad with big money signings.

The summer of 2009 saw Hughes recruit Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Carlos Tevez for a combined total of over £100m, as expectation ramped to new levels in Manchester.

On the other hand Jol took control of traditional powerhouse Ajax, a club big on prestige but low on spending prowess, with the former West Bromwich Albion player restored pride to the Amsterdam side by winning the Dutch Cup.

Hughes lost his job at City in December 2009, after things had soured between the ex-United striker and his new employers at the Citizens. Jol resigned from Ajax a year later, after a weak start to the 2010/2011 season.

Whilst Jol took a sabbatical from the game, Hughes returned to management at Fulham but after a decent season at Craven Cottage resigned from his position claiming: “As a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences.”

Flash forward to present day. Hughes currently manages QPR, with Jol taking the Welshman’s place at Fulham. Both bosses squared up last weekend at Loftus Road, with Holland overcoming Wales as Fulham ran out 1-0 winners.

Whilst Martin Jol has settled in superbly with the West London club, gaining admirers up and down the country for his free-flowing Fulham side containing classy left-footers Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz, who combine effortlessly with the direct Clint Dempsey.

At QPR, Hughes has found results harder to come by and hasn’t yet addressed the discipline issue affecting the Hoops after seeing new signing Samba Diakite sent off on his debut after 30 minutes against their London rivals.

Hughes actually signed the Belgian Dembele, who’s delightful back heeled flick-pass opened up the QPR defence for Fulham’s latest striker Pavel Pogrebnyak to settle the game.

After the game the two tacticians shook hands, but when Jol looked to pat his adversary on the side of the head, Hughes reacted angrily, slapping away the gesture and storming off down the tunnel.

Hughes said he regretted snapping at Jol for what he perceived at the time as ‘patronising’ him, but the Dutchman won’t be too worried about it considering his team sit six places and 12 points ahead of QPR.

Perhaps for Hughes it is a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’, as he left Fulham for a lack of ambition to start a brave new adventure with QPR, who are now embroiled in a relegation dogfight to stay in England’s top division.

Jol will be glad things worked out the way they have, as the Cottagers look forward to a push for a European place.

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