Jol relishing Fulham challenge

The 55-year-old former Tottenham manager has agreed an initial

two-year contract with the option of a further 12 months and

replaces Mark Hughes, who resigned last Thursday after just one

season at the helm. Jol saw his hopes of taking charge of Fulham

following Roy Hodgson’s departure a year ago blocked by Ajax, but

having left the Dutch club in December, he is relishing a second

opportunity in the English top flight. “I am very happy to be back

and especially at a club like Fulham,” Jol told the club’s official

website. “I remember coming here with Tottenham and I even think I

played here when I was a player. Craven Cottage is a real football

stadium, I loved going to Fulham. “I could have gone to other

countries, but I was waiting for the opportunity to come back to

England.” Jol will already have an idea about some of the players

he has inherited, but also revealed he had started looking at

bringing players in in what will be a shortened summer break ahead

of the Europa League qualifiers. “There are a few players here I

still know from my time at Tottenham, like Simon Davies, Danny

Murphy and Stephen Kelly – they are all very good professionals,”

the former West Brom and Coventry midfielder added. “I enjoy

watching Fulham and I enjoy watching players like Moussa Dembele,

who I have known for a while. “Yesterday we had a good conversation

about players and where we can try to strengthen and get one or two

quality players.” Fulham had been linked with a £10million

move for Espanyol striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, and chairman

Mohamed Al Fayed would appear ready to back his new manager. “I

would like to welcome Martin Jol to Fulham. He understands my

vision for the club, and believes in what we are striving to

achieve here,” Al Fayed said. “I know that he will dedicate himself

to helping us move forward, and is with us for the long term, to

help us build and progress. “We have enjoyed three incredibly

successful years, and my hopes and dreams for this club are for

that journey to continue. “I know that with his wealth of

experience and success, Martin is the right man to help us do

this.” Jol, though, could face a battle to keep forward Clint

Dempsey, with the American suggesting he was now eager for a taste

of Champions League football, while out-of-contract midfielder

Zoltan Gera has indicated he would be open to a return to former

club West Brom. The new Fulham manager will have to work quickly to

get his squad in shape ahead of the start of their Europa League

qualifying campaign at the end of the month. The west London club

were awarded a place in the competition via the UEFA Fair Play

standings. A potential eight games stand between Fulham and a place

in the group stages, which start in mid-September. Despite the

prospect of a shortened summer break, defender Philippe Senderos

has no issue with the early return to business, having missed most

of last season with an Achilles injury. The Swiss centre-back said:

“The end of the season came a bit too soon for me, but we are going

to have a short summer. “We come back on June 23, but that is fine

for me as I was out for a while.”