Villas-Boas earns Jol praise
Martin Jol is not surprised that Andre Villas-Boas has enjoyed such success because he believes talent is more important than age.
Last Updated: 24/12/11 3:50pm
Fulham boss Martin Jol is not surprised that Andre Villas-Boas has enjoyed such success as a manager because he believes talent is more important than age.
Villas-Boas, 34, arrived at Stamford Bridge over the summer with a reputation as one of the world's brightest young tacticians, having steered former club Porto to four trophies last season including a Europa League crown.
He has come under pressure this term following some disappointing results but has received nothing but praise from Jol ahead of Chelsea's clash with the Cottagers on Boxing Day.
"I sympathise with all the managers but that is the business," the Dutchman said.
"If you are not fulfilling the expectations of the people around you it is always problem.
"The only thing is to get results and points on the board - then it is the best life ever.
"If you do not, you are struggling. I am, though, not surprised by his age.
"I think it is quite adventurous and challenging to [appoint somebody of the age]. Someone who won the Europa League, some titles in Portugal, like Jose Mourinho before him.
"He is quite young but I do not think it is about age.
"It is the same on the field, too. My player [Kerim] Frei showed he is good enough to play at 18 so I do not think about it."
Jol has blooded a number of younger players into the first team at Fulham this season and he is particularly excited about what Swiss midfielder Frei has to offer.
"As I said, it doesn't matter how young you are," Jol said. "He came on against Swansea and earned a penalty. He played against Chelsea and did the same.
"He played against Odense in the Europa League and set up the first goal and scored the second.
"That is something we can build on and it can push other players because he does not have a lack of confidence, shall we say."
Frei is jostling with Clint Dempsey for the left-wing slot at Stamford Bridge and Jol believes such squad depth has helped them get through what has been a difficult season so far.
The match with Chelsea will be Fulham's 33rd competitive game of the season, which includes 14 Europa League matches.
"Sometimes playing in Europe will be a problem and other managers will tell you that," Jol said.
"If you play in Europe you have to travel on Thursday and perhaps play an away game on the Sunday in the league.
"That could be a problem and it showed, and with other teams as well.
"But we are still on the fringe of things and we were still on the fringe before, with the possibility to win games.
"If you look at the league table, we need to focus on wins and getting points on the board."