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Craig Kline abruptly leaves Fulham

last updated Wednesday 01st November 2017, 11:30 PM

Fulham Football Club

The American data-analyst advocate brought into Fulham by vice-chairman Tony Khan to overhaul the club’s recruitment strategy has left abruptly over the weekend having clashed with manager Slavisa Jokanovic and other senior figures at the club.

Craig Kline, a university friend of Khan, whose father Shahid bought the London club in 2013, had come under fire from Jokanovic on a number of occasions, and the Serb manager has repeatedly criticised Fulham’s approach to recruitment.

Kline had clashed with individuals at the Motspur Park training ground in the past but club officials were repeatedly told by Tony Khan that the data analyst had a role to play in their push to return to the Premier League.

Over the weekend, however, Kline, whose title was assistant director of football operations, finally left the club and although he has taken periods of absences in the past – following arguments with key personnel – it is understood that this decision on his future is final.

He worked closely with Tony Khan refining the data system for the latter’s sports analytics solutions company TruMedia.

According to the system created by the two men, the club operated what they called a “both boxes ticked” approach to player recruitment. Any potential signing had to satisfy Kline’s data requirements and also be approved by the club’s scouting department, led in recent months by Brian Talbot, who has the same title as Kline.

In February, when the club was challenging for promotion from the Championship, Tony Khan was named as vice-chairman of the club and director of football operations. It was then that Kline’s position was made official having first joined the club as director of statistical research in October 2014.

Despite difficult relationships with senior figures at the club, he retained the support of Tony Khan until this weekend when it was felt that Kline’s position at the club was no longer viable.

The long-serving chief executive Alistair Mackintosh remains in charge, having been one of those with whom Kline disagreed fundamentally on the way in which the club was run. Having reached the Championship play-offs last season, Fulham finished the weekend in 13th position.

The club have kept established first team players like Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon but there have been misgivings over missed signings, and others like Spanish defender Marcelo Djalo, which have not worked out.

Source Sam Wallace at Daily Telegraph
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