Dec 6, 2013, 7:16 AM EDT
With Fulham struggling to produce anything of quality this season, Rene Meulensteen has taken the reigns, tasked with rescuing the storied London club.
The green manager’s biggest challenge will be to inspire a squad that seems to have little fire burning beneath them at times.
“It’s a massive challenge,” Meulensteen told Sky Sports. “But at the end of the day, when you’re faced with a challenge like this, it comes down to making sure you get the basic things right.”
The biggest challenge of the squad is none other than its name-brand striker Dimitar Berbatov.
The 32-year-old Bulgarian throughout his career has been on the end of a back-and-forth debate between fans and pundits alike. Some criticize him for a lack in the work rate department, others praise him for moments of brilliance on the ball with a brilliant first touch and pinpoint accuracy.
With just a single Premier League goal to his name this season in 12 starts, Fulham’s number-9 has given his critics new life and new ammunition.
“We need to make sure that you stay mentally strong, that the fans are getting behind the team, and we need to make sure that the players stay mentally strong and believe,” Meulensteen said to Sky. ” And then you make sure you get the basic things right, work rate, discipline, that sort of thing.”
Berbatov has proven to be Meulensteen’s biggest conundrum in the work-rate department, and that’s not news to anyone.
The Mirror’s Darren Lewis called him a “luxury player” and said, “In the situation they find themselves, Fulham now need fighters and scrappers. Not flair players more suited to a grander stage.”
Whether Meulensteen can not only transform his position from temporary to permanent but also transform the club from bottom-3 caliber to Premier League assured will no doubt hinge on a correct decision regarding their main man at the front.
Berbatov’s agent Emil Dantchev told the Mirror that rumors of his client’s desire to leave Craven Cottage this January are true. He was quoted as saying “Dimitar is not happy at Fulham.”
But not so fast.
In Fulham’s energetic 2-1 loss to Tottenham midweek, Berbatov looked at times a new man. He showed more touches of brilliance than the entire season prior. Sure there were lackluster moments as well, but it was a clear improvement.
Should the Cottagers decide to offload their biggest signing of the last few years, it would potentially save them a good £2 million ($3.27 million) in wages. However, they’d also become even more barren in the attack. After all, Fulham have scored a paltry 12 goals all year, with just Darren Bent and an injured Hugo Rodallega waiting in the wings.
Should Rene Meulensteen give in to the vultures, with clubs like Trabzonspor and West Ham circling, or should he stay the course and keep faith in his main man?
It’s hard to say what the right answer is, but the other options sure don’t seem much better, if better at all.
Apr 15, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT
Mexico’s top two teams reach halftime of their two-legged final, with leg two kickoff next Wednesday in Toluca.
Apr 15, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT
The top four remain unchanged, while Houston, New England, and Portland make big shifts on this week’s chart.
Apr 15, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT
Thoughts from NBCSN’s analysts as will as footage from Rodgers’, Martínez’s speeches at Anfield.
Apr 15, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT
Three LA Galaxy players join two members of the Columbus Crew in our Best XI.
Apr 15, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT
Gunners go back into the top four, but can they hold off Everton?
Apr 15, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Four soccer players rank amount the world’s top 25 earners.
Apr 15, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT
Columbus’s Costa Rican international is the latest player to donate to MLS Works.
Apr 15, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
The Gunners overcame a Matt Jarvis opener to take their second win of the season from the Irons.
Apr 15, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
Klopp to take over at White Hart Lane?
Apr 15, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT
Last week’s hat trick couldn’t snare our honor, but two goals in Dallas made the Sounder star this week’s best player.
Apr 15, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT
Can the Clarets join the Foxes in the big time?
Apr 15, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
A story from The Daily Beast deals with many obstacles faced by the girls, including some prevailing belief that they shouldn’t even watch sport, let alone play soccer.
Apr 15, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT
The Gunners and Hammers are putting some London derby bragging rights on the line this evening at the Emirates Stadium live on NBCSN and online NBC Sports Live Extra
Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
West Ham last took a point from Arsenal in an October 2009 draw, and hasn’t beaten the Gunners since an April 7, 2007 win at the Emirates.
Apr 15, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT
MLSSoccer.com’s “MLS Insider” series brings a strong video on the anniversary of Matt Reis’ heroics at the Boston Marathon bombing.
Apr 15, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT
His speech was equal parts soccer fan, Merseyside resident and fixture in the game.
Apr 15, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
Let’s say you’re dating your ex-teammate’s ex-wife and spend a lot of time with his kids. What’s a super scummy idea before your team plays his?
Apr 15, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Former Villa player Gordon Cowans and current back-up keeper Shay Given have been “temporarily promoted.”
Apr 15, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT
Images from around Twitter, covering the 25th anniversary memorial to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Apr 15, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
Atletico won last year’s edition, with Barca topping the tourney in 2012 and Real claiming the crown in 2011. Who do you have winning the Copa del Rey?
- PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Week 6 0
- ProSoccerTalk MLS Team of the Week – Week 6 0
- Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can finish in the top four 4
- Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United: Podolski double puts Gunners back in the win column (video) 1
- PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Clint Dempsey 0
- Promotion Watch: Burnley on the cusp of Premier League return 1