Jol impressed by Villas-Boas

The 34-year-old was handed the Stamford Bridge reins in the summer,

despite his tender years and limited managerial experience.

Villas-Boas led former club Porto to four trophies last season,

including a Europa League crown that saw him become the youngest

manager to win a European club title. Fulham manager Martin Jol

comes head-to-head with the man 21 years his junior on Boxing Day

and is full of admiration for the Chelsea boss, especially having

overcome mounting external pressure. “I sympathise with all the

managers but that is the business,” the Dutchman said. “If you are

not fulfilling the expectations of the people around you it is

always problem. “The only thing is to get results and points on the

board – then it is the best life ever. “If you do not, you are

struggling. I am, though, not surprised by his age. “I think it is

quite adventurous and challenging to [appoint somebody of the age].

Someone who won the Europa League, some titles in Portugal, like

Jose Mourinho before him. “He is quite young but I do not think it

is about age. “It is the same on the field, too. My player [Kerim]

Frei showed he is good enough to play at 18 so I do not think about

it.” Jol has stuck with the mantra of talent being more important

than age this season, blooding a number of younger players into the

first team. Frei was among those handed their senior debut and he

has so far impressed the Fulham manager. “As I said, it doesn’t

matter how young you are,” Jol said. “He came on against Swansea

and earned a penalty. He played against Chelsea and did the same.

“He played against Odense in the Europa League and set-up the first

goal and scored the second. “That is something we can build on and

it can push other players because he does not have a lack of

confidence, shall we say.” Frei is jostling with Clint Dempsey for

the left-wing slot at Stamford Bridge and Jol believes such squad

depth has helped them get through what has been a difficult season

so far. The match with Chelsea will be Fulham’s 33rd competitive

game of the season, which includes 14 Europa League matches.

“Sometimes playing in Europe will be a problem and other managers

will tell you that,” Jol said. “If you play in Europe you have to

travel on Thursday and perhaps play an away game on the Sunday in

the league. “That could be a problem and it showed, and with other

teams as well. “But we are still on the fringe of things and we

were still on the fringe before, with the possibility to win games.

“If you look at the league table, we need to focus on wins and

getting points on the board.”