Martin Jol knows the end could be nigh. The Fulham manager was offered support by his board before and after this defeat, with the new owner, Shahid Kahn, also using Saturday's programme notes to laud the team's efforts so far this season. Jol believes that Kahn and the chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, are sympathetic to the fine margins in play but he is painfully aware that defeats such as this one can cause patience to run out quickly.
"His piece in the magazine was remarkably good but you never know because they can say they are a fan and the next day you're out," said Jol with a shrug when asked whether he has his employer's support. The Dutchman does not have regular contact with Kahn as the pair have so far talked only when the US-based owner has been in London. Kahn's next scheduled visit is when his NFL franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars, play at Wembley at the end of October. But it would be no surprise if Jol heard from him before then.
After all, among the optimistic sentiments expressed in the programme, Kahn also gave the following explanation for last week's removal of the unloved Michael Jackson statue from Craven Cottage: "Listening to the customer, or in this case the fans, has been a key theme throughout my career and that principle will continue to guide me." There is only so long, then, that he will ignore chants of "Jol Out" that are more widespread at The Cottage.
Fulham finished last season badly and they have developed a ruinous habit of finishing matches badly this term, conceding late goals in each of their last four games, including Jordan Mutch's superb late strike that gave Cardiff City a deserved victory. Malky Mackay's promoted team outplayed their hosts for long periods and were unlucky to be level at half-time, Bryan Ruiz's sweetly taken goal from 20 yards cancelling out Steven Caulker's opener for the visitors.
Jol accepts that mistakes have been made – primarily by his defenders, whose marking at virtually every Cardiff set piece was again slovenly – but he insists the main reason for Fulham's hapless streak has been misfortune. "It's not as if we are losing 3-0 or 4-0, we are very close," he says. "On the continent you would say the devil is against us."
The bad luck line has some validity insofar as Fulham have been hit hard by injuries. Scott Parker, the inspiration behind last week's Capital One Cup victory over Everton, hobbled off with a calf strain six minutes into the Cardiff defeat and will be out for two weeks; key players such as Darren Bent, Adel Taarabt, Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov have all been in and out because of fitness problems; and one of the club's main summer signings, the goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, has been sidelined since hurting his shoulder on the opening day.
That instability is no doubt one of the reasons Fulham have struggled to find fluency, although critics argue that the problem was predictable, as a club always risks a spate of injuries when most of its recruits are in their 30s. Jol responds that he has not been given the resources to buy better – Premier League clubs may have paid out a record amount in transfer fees last summer but Fulham, like the season before, spent less than £10m and most of their activity was confined to loans or cut-price deals for veterans who are out of favour elsewhere.
"I can understand the criticism but [fans] should realise that we are 20th in the table for spending money," Jol said. "If you realise that, you can see we can't afford to get the 23-year-olds. So I always have to look for the Berbatovs and the Bents and I have to take them when they're 'bad' and try to get the maximum amount out of them. At the start of the season everybody was happy with the players we got in."
Asked whether he thinks Kahn should give him money to spruce up the squad in January if he is still around, Jol took his time to consider his words, replying with studied neutrality: "You'll have to ask him."
Man of the match Gary Medel (Cardiff City)