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.
Jul 22, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT
Business up front. Defense in the rear.
Jul 22, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT
L.A. Galaxy Insider report also speculates that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could take a Designated Player spot in Major League Soccer if he leaves Old Trafford.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
“It’s obviously a shame he’s not here, but Liverpool is a club that’s bigger as any individual,” Rodgers said from Fenway Park.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
Inter Milan and Queens Park Rangers have swooped in for two of the Bluebirds’ best players, and Vincent Tan probably isn’t too happy.
Jul 22, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT
Shaw speaks to PST: “Manchester United are the biggest club in the world. I didn’t think twice when they wanted to sign me.”
Jul 22, 2014, 8:39 PM EDT
When a guy many consider a footballing genius gives the United States coach praise, that’s a pretty cool feather in Klinsmann’s cap.
Jul 22, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT
Premier Leaguers in the U.S. on Tuesday = A day of open training sessions, autographs, football helmets and golf clubs.
Jul 22, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT
The 19-year-old is a promising prospect, but is dealing with negative headlines after being subject to abuse on Tuesday in Croatia.
Jul 22, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Fraser Forster will be sticking at Celtic, for now, after Southampton reportedly lowballed the Scottish powers.
Jul 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Hand on shoulder, hair-coiffed, warm smile… next! Becks makes the rounds on the United’s U.S. tour.
Jul 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
There have been reports of where the 32-year-old American left sider will not be going, but little as to where he will.
Jul 22, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
For every “stars… they’re just like us” moment a player gives you, there are moments like this, which will not happen to 99.9999% of us at work in our lives
Jul 22, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Xavi set to remain at Barcelona until January, at least.
Jul 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT
Yeah. This is actually happened… as Stoke pull off a major coup.
Jul 22, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
Guardiola: “He trains well, he’s a good guy and my first idea is that he’s going to stay for the rest of the season.”
Jul 22, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT
Will Lovren become the third Saints player to join Liverpool this summer? If the price is right, it sure looks that way.
Jul 22, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
Where will Rodriguez line up next season for Real? Here’s an in-depth look at the options.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
Second time around, Dunga will lead Brazil’s new era.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
What do you get for $107 million in today’s world? A red-hot 23-year-old Colombian striker, that’s what.
Jul 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT
Klopp says Hummels is not for sale… not at the price reported anyway.
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