How do you assess Fulham’s start to the season?
I’ve been shocked by how it’s gone. I think there was a real sense of optimism coming into the season. We didn’t have a great preseason but then that doesn’t have a bearing on the actual season in my eyes. We made some good purchases and loan signings and also cleared out some of the deadwood (Petric et al) but it really hasn’t gelled for us yet and I’m worried about when it will.
Pressure has been mounting on Martin Jol. Do you think he’ll be sacked if the results don’t start changing?
I think when new owners come into a business they usually want to stamp their mark on it and football clubs are no different. Shahid Khan has taken owner from Al Fayed and given the results I’m surprised he hasn’t gone already. I like Martin Jol but I’m afraid I think he is on borrowed time.
How have your summer signings adapted to life in the Premier League?
I’ve always liked Derek Boateng and Reither was good on loan last season so it made sense for a permanent deal. We replaced Schwarzer with Skelenenburg which was a good swap given Mark’s age. Scott Parker was another good acquisition especially with Simon Davies retiring. The loan signings of Taarabt and Bent were very astute – we just need them to start playing!
You have a new assistant in Rene Meulensteen. How much of that decision has been made by Jol himself?
I’ve heard rumours that he will replace Jol if the results don’t improve. I’m not sure how true they are but given the perilous position of the club Jol probably needs as much help as possible at the moment anyway.
How surprised are you that Berbatov and Bent aren’t scoring consistently this season?
I think there’s always a worry when you buy veteran players that you’re not getting the player they were two years ago. They’re no longer in their prime and therefore don’t have the consistency. Berbatov was great last season but has struggled so far this season. Bent has done ok but again has shown glimpses of his ability. Both need to get firing on all cylinders.
How is ex Hammer Scott Parker getting on this season?
Scott’s a natural leader in the middle of the park and although his engine isn’t quite what it used to be, he always puts in a good shift and has popped up on the score sheet this season. Overall I’m happy with him in the team although he is quite similar to Sidwell in many ways.
Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Fulham first XI when the club’s meet this season?
Berbatov and Bent need to start scoring if we’ve got a chance of fighting off relegation. Hammer’s fans know Parker’s abilities so he shouldn’t come as a surprise. Adel Taarabt has some great skill but needs to use his head a bit more.
What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season?
Like us I’m surprised you’ve struggled like you have this season. I think you’re one striker away from a good team though and if you manage to get someone in at the start of January then you could have a change of fortunes.
Which West Ham players would you have in your squad?
I’m not surprised Winston Reid has been drawing the plaudits this season – I’ve always liked him and Tomkins. Ravel Morrison is also a player that I’d like to see in a Fulham kit.
What’s your prediction for the match and for both clubs this season?
1 -1 for the match, Fulham 15th, West Ham 16th.