Whatever the questions at Fulham, Dimitar Berbatov isn’t the answer 1

Ben Weeks grows disillusioned with Dimitar Berbatov’s contribution at Fulham…

As early as the appointment of Meulensteen as ‘head coach’ two weeks ago, one of the more repeated questions was whether between him and Martin Jol they could get Dimitar Berbatov firing again for Fulham. With Jol’s dismissal earlier today, that debate flared up again. I don’t believe this is actually relevant any longer - Berbatov may or may not be off in January, and almost certainly will be come the end of his contract this summer. Forward planning must begin. However, it is more than just that - Berbatov just isn’t, or refuses to be, the player Fulham need in the now inevitable looking relegation scrap that they find themselves in.

As has been mentioned by the host of these pages, Berbatov essentially just hasn’t done enough for the Cottagers this season. I would argue he sums up Fulham in recent weeks: apathetic, quick to resign himself to failure and an unwillingness to face up to culpability. I can only hope that Meulensteen is not so afraid to drop him as Jol appeared to be…assuming of course that the murmurs of a bizarre “must play if fit” clause in the striker’s contract aren’t true. It’s obviously a real shame, because Berbatov represents a class of player that Fulham probably hasn’t seen since Johnny Haynes and is unlikely to see again in the near future.

Indeed Berbatov isn’t the only problem for Fulham, as was only too evident against West Ham. He’s not even the only problem in Fulham’s attack - Ruiz remains badly out of form and bereft of confidence, Bent seems to have lost his striking ability altogether and the young Moussa Dembélé is of course a huge gamble: though perhaps one Meulensteen may be more keen to take than Jol, who had a notoriously difficult relationship with the club’s youth setup. However, when Dimitar plays, and plays as poorly as he has too often, his negative influence on the whole team is unacceptable.

Whether or not Fulham can survive the season is still up in the air, but the new plans with the new manager should no longer be made with a focus on accommodating the Bulgarian.

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