One manager already has been fired, and another is feeling the heat as the touchline will be the focus of Wednesday's match at Craven Cottage as Rene Meulensteen will make his managerial debut for Fulham against embattled Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur.
With the Cottagers (3-1-9) currently owning one of the three relegation spots, owner and chairman Shahid Khan made the decision to fire Martin Jol after their listless 3-0 defeat to West Ham United. It was the fifth straight loss for Fulham, who have been outscored 14-2 in those matches during their slide to near the foot of the table.
''Our poor form and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters deserve better,'' Khan said. ''With more than half the season still ahead, an immediate change was necessary.''
Meulensteen, a former first-team Manchester United coach under Sir Alex Ferguson for 12 years and brought on board to help Dutch compatriot Jol only last month, now takes over. He enlisted some immediate help from Old Trafford in the form of Jonathan Hill, who was an academy youth coach at Manchester United and had coaching stints at both Manchester City and Tromso FC.
Despite the team's struggles and poor run of form, Aaron Hughes thinks the Cottagers have an opportunity to potentially save their season this week as they seek the maximum six points at home against both the Spurs and Aston Villa this weekend.
"We've just got to keep going and believing in ourselves," the centreback told Fulham's official website. "When you're in the middle of a bad run the last thing you want to do is let your head drop, feel sorry for yourself and make excuses.
"If we can take six points from the next two games, the table would look completely different. That's what we're aiming for - we'll look at the West Ham game and figure out where we went wrong and then prepare for Spurs and Villa."
Despite an offseason overhaul and ambitious investment on player personnel, Tottenham (6-3-4) have been one of the biggest disappointments of the Premier League as they enter play 10 points behind front-running Arsenal and mid-table in 10th place. Even replacing Gareth Bale with multiple attacking options, the lack of a dynamic superstar such as the Welshman has left the Spurs goal-starved and Villas-Boas frustrated.
Tottenham endured a goalless November in league play and scored twice Sunday versus Manchester United, only to be pegged back on both occasions in settling for a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Spurs might have won the game in the closing stages when substitute Andros Townsend just failed to reach Kyle Walker' cross.
Villas-Boas lashed out at the media following the game, claiming there were articles which "attacked my integrity and my achievements with the club" before also blasting referee Mike Dean for awarding United a penalty following Hugo Lloris' foul on Danny Welbeck.
While the point may have calmed the nerves of some around the team on the heels of being thrashed 6-0 by Manchester City previously, Villas-Boas thinks Spurs are in a good frame of mind as they head into this crunch portion of the schedule.
"It could have been the perfect ending but unfortunately we couldn't finish the situations we had to make it 2-0 in the first half, and then the Townsend ball for 3-2. It's never easy to play a team like United... so I congratulate the players on a wonderful performance. The result wasn't what we wanted, but it puts us back on track."
The road team took both matches last season, with Spurs storming to a 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage last season on a second-half brace by Jermain Defoe following Sandro's go-ahead tally in the 55th minute. Fulham, who won 1-0 at White Hart Lane to end a six-match losing streak in the series, have just one victory in their last seven (1-3-3) at home versus the Lilywhites.
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