Rene Meulensteen has joined the Fulham coaching staff after the club decided to persist with Martin Jol as manager.
The Dutchman rejected an initial offer from the Londoners last month after, as first revealed by Goal, flying to Jacksonville to hold talks with owner Shahid Khan.
However, Fulham did not give up hope of enticing the former Manchester United first-team coach as the club pressed ahead with plans to shake up their backroom set-up. He also had a lucrative offer on the table from the Qatar FA but turned that down to give the Cottagers fresh hope that he could be persuaded to move to west London.
Fulham made a second move for Meulensteen and, amid interest from Crystal Palace in appointing him their new manager, a deal was agreed. The new role of head coach has been created at Fulham for Meulensteen, who is described by Sir Alex in his new autobiography as a “magnificent coach” and who is rated by Robin van Persie as "one of the best in the world".
As reported by Goal, Jol’s long time assistant Michael Lindeman is expected to stay on but Billy McKinlay, the current first-team coach, is likely to be sidelined to make way for Meulensteen.
“Fulham is delighted to announce the appointment of Rene Meulensteen as head coach,” the club said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. “Meulensteen joins the club with immediate effect working alongside manager Martin Jol”.
Jol is believed to have been fully behind plans to lure fellow Dutchman Meulensteen after accepting that the first-team coaching needed freshening up.
Fulham have begun the season with a wretched run of results that leaves them in the relegation zone, with 10 points from 11 Premier League games. They had appeared to have overcome a poor start with consecutive victories over Stoke City and Crystal Palace last month but have followed up with four consecutive defeats, culminating in last weekend’s limp 4-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Meulensteen had been keen to take up a long-term role following a 16-day spell at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala after leaving Old Trafford. Meulensteen is believed to have sought, and been given, reassurances that he will have a future at Craven Cottage even if Jol loses his job.
The former United coach said: “I was impressed by the vision of Shahid Khan and Alistair Mackintosh. I’ve spent many hours talking with Martin Jol and we share a vision of how football should be played and how players should be developed. It’s our job to make sure we can bring this vision to life on the pitch for the fans.”
Chief executive Alistair Mackintosh has convinced Khan that Jol should be given more time to turn around Fulham’s season, although Meulensteen will be regarded as a possible successor should the former Tottenham, Ajax and Hamburg manager not do so.
Mackintosh said: “We’re all delighted to welcome Rene to Fulham. There was always going to be a battle for Rene’s services and, with the assistance of our chairman Shahid Khan, we’ve been able to bring one of the best coaches in the world to Fulham.”