Ever since Kit Symons’ sacking at the weekend the media has been flooded with potential candidates for Fulham’s next manager, with the likes of Steve Bruce, David Moyes, Nigel Pearson and Uwe Rosler amongst them. There’s one manager which has caught my attention more than others however and as the current favourite amongst bookies (1/1 @ Sky Bet) here’s why I think Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is the man for Fulham.
Currently the boss at high-flying Burton Albion, Hasselbaink made an instant impact in the football league as he guided The Brewers to promotion as League 2 champions just 6 months after his arrival. Although the Dutchman is only in his second season as a football league manager it appears as though his ability as an international footballer has rubbed off on his sideline role, something which the highly ambitious Shahid Khan will no doubt have noted. Despite Hasselbaink’s reasonably low level of experience as a manager it is unlikely to deter the Fulham board from offering the ex-Chelsea star the job as recent reports suggest their aim is to employ a head coach over the more traditional manager, Fulham’s philosophies suiting the Burton boss’ capabilities better than most in the running. Steve Bruce has been dubbed as the favourite to replace Kit Symons since his departure but when you take into consideration that Hull City are sitting on top of the table having conceded just 8 goals in 16 games the idea comes across as nothing short of unrealistic.
Why Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink?
Well to start, he played 468 games in his professional career scoring an impressive 197 goals, whilst also featuring 23 times for his nation. His natural ability as a forward is bound to be considered a major positive in getting the most out of Fulham’s forwards, especially £12m signing Ross McCormack and teenage sensations Moussa Dembele and Cauley Woodrow. At the same time this should not take the limelight off his capability as a defensive tactician as this campaign his Burton side currently boast League 1’s best defence conceding 13 goals in 16 games at an average of just 0.8 per game, impressive for a club competing in their first ever League 1 season. Aside from Hasselbaink’s individual ability, the impact of appointing a household name in English football would provide a much needed positive atmosphere around Fulham, with four managers sacked in the last 2 seasons and a dismal 17th place finish last season pushing the historic London club into limbo of late. It is this plateau in performance which is of most concern to the owner and fans with the Premier League currently out of touch, but you’ve got to think that as Hasselbaink grows as a head coach at Championship level this will have an impact on his team, with his success now being Fulham’s as well. The current Fulham side have shown glimpses of their potential to achieve said success too, with recent impressive wins over Reading and Bristol City a fine example, but they need someone to keep them consistent, someone to relate to, someone who wins, someone like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
To prise the 43-year-old away from Burton should be a reasonably simplistic task with only 18 months left on his contract at the Pirelli Stadium and the option of a long term position with the Cottagers potentially on the table. With Khan’s sights firmly set on a Premier League return money isn’t an issue, but the appointment of Hasselbaink would still be regarded the smarter option financially with the other managers in contention for the job boasting a more prolific CV and subsequent wage demand. On the whole a relatively low-risk appointment in terms of finance for a manager with a prolific playing history and a managerial habit of winning, his 59% win ratio since his arrival to the football league showcasing that perfectly. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows however, as Fulham would still be getting a relatively young manager with no managerial experience in the Championship and the weight of a football club’s need for instant success on his shoulders, an appointment very similar to that of Kit Symons. Though, for me this wouldn’t be considered as a step sidewards for all of the reasons I have listed throughout this article. The Championship is arguably the worlds toughest league and there’s something about Hasselbaink which suggests he would embrace that, put his touch on a team and prevail victorious, just like he did during his first 6 months in the football league to win promotion from League 2. One thing’s for certain however, winning Fulham promotion from the Championship this season will be a near impossible task for any manager when taking into account the time needed for a complete transition, but setting up for a Premier League surge in 2016/17 is certainly achievable and probably expected from a team of Fulham’s history and calibre.