Martin Jol announced on Thursday that the club has activated an option to extend his contract, due to run out next summer, for another year to the middle of 2014. This is great news.
Having arrived following the hasty and badly-managed departure of the ambitious Mark Hughes, Jol inherited an ageing squad, assembled in the main by Roy Hodgson. Given the remit by Mohamed Al Fayed and Alistair Mackintosh to lower the overall age of the squad, he gradually warmed to the task, wary of the pitfalls of making too much change too soon. Now, almost 18 months on, he has created a vibrant, quick and attack-minded Fulham side, with an exciting blend of youth and experience.
It has taken time for the Fulham faithful to embrace the spherical Dutchman, not helped by the high-profile bickering that preceded Bobby Zamora's departure to join the ambitious Hughes at QPR. Much has been made of Jol's man-management skills, or perceived lack thereof, but there is little substance to these concerns. The bizarrely popular Zamora left because he and Jol didn't get on that well (a result of the former's poor attitude more than anything else) and because of the lure of heaps of cash, a long contract and a chance to rekindle his ambitions with Hughes. He is not missed.
Danny Murphy and Andrew Johnson left because the club weren't willing to offer them more than a year's contract, a valid reason given that Murphy was 35 and Johnson has a history of long-term injury problems. They also left with Jol's best wishes. The departures of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele were completely different situations; they were players on an upward career
trajectory who, sadly for us, saw Fulham as a stepping stone to greater things. Could Jol do anything to stop them? Absolutely not; Dembele had a release clause in his contract, and bear in mind that had Jol not shifted him into central midfield, no club would have seen enough to spend £15 million on him, while Dempsey forced the club's hand.
Jol has made us one of the most attractive teams to watch in the Premier League, he has brought quality in the form of Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov, and is giving Fulham youngsters the chance when they prove they are good enough. Jol will have money to spend in January, and these are genuinely exciting times for the club as he continues to build this team. Long may his tenure continue.