• Premier League

Meulensteen: I'll keep Fulham up

ESPN staff
December 2, 2013
Fulham fire Jol

New Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen is confident he can transform the club's fortunes and keep them in the Premier League this season.

The Cottagers sacked Martin Jol on Sunday after six successive defeats - the latest of which was a 3-0 loss to West Ham - and a start to the season that has seen them slip into the relegation zone with ten points from 13 matches.

Now Meulensteen, who spent 12 years at Manchester United working on Sir Alex Ferguson's coaching team and was described by the Scot as a "magnificent coach", says he can keep the club in the top flight.

"I am confident because of the sort of experiences I've had for so many years at Manchester United,'' Meulensteen told Sky Sports News. "I know what is required at the top end of the Premier League. This is a different challenge with different pressure.

"This is making sure you realise the need to keep three teams below you. Don't even speak about getting into the top six, top 10, whatever it is. You need to make sure you close your ranks, and you make sure you start winning again.

"It's a massive challenge. But when you're faced with a challenge like this it comes down to making sure you get the basic things right. You need to stay mentally strong and make sure the fans are getting behind the team.

"We need to make sure the players are mentally strong and believe.''

Meulensteen was brought in by Fulham owner Shahid Khan last month to coach alongside Jol, with many speculating at the time that the writing was on the wall for the former Spurs boss.

But Meulensteen stressed that he had no intention of stepping into his compatriot's shoes following that initial appointment, despite the same thing happening at Anzhi Makhachkala, where he replaced Guus Hiddink soon after joining the club.

"I said to Martin, 'Listen, I don't know if this is anything to do with me, but in the time I worked 12 years with Manchester United, and for five to six years with Sir Alex Ferguson, I had no problem, but I go to Anzhi and Guus Hiddink departs after two weeks, and Martin does the same.'

"I don't know if was anything to do with me, but it was definitely not something I was anticipating. We wanted to turn this corner together.

Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz expressed his regret at Jol's departure but insisted he was fully behind new boss Meulensteen.

"I am very grateful to Martin because he was responsible for bringing me to Fulham, I learned a lot from him,'' Ruiz said. "He came to my defence. I always tried to do my best to back him.'' On Meulensteen's appointment, he added: "It's a change that we hope will help the team. We as players are going to give our best.''

Meulensteen has not enjoyed much success in his previous spells as a manager. He lasted just 17 days in his last job at Anzhi, while spells at Brondby and Qatari teams Al-Gharafa and Al-Sadd yielded little in terms of results.

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