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Fulham's Jol ready to take on old friends Twente

Published: Wednesday 14 September 2011, 17.36CET
Fulham FC manager Martin Jol needs no introduction to Group K opponents FC Twente, the club he played for and who then pipped his AFC Ajax team to the Dutch title in 2010.
by Wayne Harrison
from London
Fulham's Jol ready to take on old friends Twente
Martin Jol takes on familiar opposition on Thursday ©Getty Images
 
 
Published: Wednesday 14 September 2011, 17.36CET

Fulham's Jol ready to take on old friends Twente

Fulham FC manager Martin Jol needs no introduction to Group K opponents FC Twente, the club he played for and who then pipped his AFC Ajax team to the Dutch title in 2010.

Martin Jol was reluctant to dwell on past disappointment inflicted by FC Twente as the Fulham FC boss looked ahead to renewing acquaintances with his countrymen and former club on UEFA Europa League matchday one.

When I played we were in the top five or six and always playing in Europe, but now they've made some big steps and were champions two seasons ago
Martin Jol

Sixteen months ago an AFC Ajax team coached by Jol ended the 2009/10 Eredivisie season with 106 goals, the best defence and a 14-match winning run dating back to February – a sequence which featured a 3-0 home victory over Fulham's Group K opponents on Thursday.

Despite those impressive statistics, Ajax were unable to deny the Enschede club their first Dutch title, finishing the campaign a point behind Steve McClaren's then charges. "They never had any injuries but maybe that will change now they are playing on a Thursday," recalled Jol, who left Ajax last December.

"I can remember that Bryan Ruiz, for example, scored eight goals in the last five or six minutes of games and that was infuriating, though I don't want to think about it any more because it's in the past."

If Ajax's near miss still rankles with the 55-year-old, Jol was more effusive when asked about how Twente have progressed since his spell there as a midfielder from 1979 to 1982.

"When I played we were in the top five or six and always playing in Europe, but now they've made some big steps and were champions two seasons ago and have been involved in the Champions League," said Jol, who is likely to be without Aaron Hughes, Philippe Senderos and Dickson Etuhu for the visit of Co Adriaanse's men.

"I can't say they are lucky all the time with their signings, but they've always bought a high percentage of good players. Their good players have certainly done well. For example, on the left they had [Eljero] Elia and [Miroslav] Stoch and now they have Ola John, so they've all done well."

The encounter at Craven Cottage in west London – where Fulham defend a 20-match unbeaten home record in Europe – assumed added interest when Fulham paid a reported €12.2m on deadline day for Twente striker Bryan Ruiz, whose 24 goals two terms ago were largely responsible for Jol and Ajax missing out on the championship.

His participation for the Tukkers in UEFA Champions League qualifying means the Costa Rican international cannot face his old employers, yet even so Jol has refrained from picking the forward's brains because "we all know Twente so well".

Jol's debut on the Fulham bench came in the first qualifying round of this competition on 30 June, an early start to the season which has been cited as a possible reason why the UEFA Respect Fair Play entrants have failed to win any of their opening four top-flight games for the first time since 1951.

"If you play your best team all the time, that is a gamble," added Jol. "We wanted to be in the group stage so we played our best team [in qualifying] and, of course, playing against sides not involved in Europe could be a problem."

Last updated: 15/09/11 13.48CET

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