Captain cool

Monday 4 March 2002

With Andy Melville being rested against Liverpool, new captain Rufus Brevett's presence was in great demand after the game from the assembled press corps. Clearly frustrated and downcast after his side's latest defeat, the left-back did his best to avoid the cameras and the note-books, but Fulham Today managed to corner him and get a few words on what it was like to take over the skipper's role. He also made a heartfelt forecast that will please Fulham fans everywhere.

Apparently, team selection is announced only just before the match, and that's when Brevett found out about his new responsibility.

"I didn't know it was going to happen," he said, "I was made captain at Walsall, which was a surprise, but we didn't know what the team was going to be until just before the match. That's when I knew that Andy Melville was rested and I was made captain.

"We usually get told what the team is about one-thirty and that's when I found out. I really enjoy playing for Fulham and to be captain is a fabulous feeling. It's not something I've done with any other club - not at QPR or Doncaster. It's a great experience. We've never lost before when I've been captain, so that's a bit disappointing."

As well as having a new skipper, there was also a different look about the way the team played. Brevett explained that Sean Davis and Sylvain Legwinski both played in the deep midfield holding role, which allowed Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte greater license to push out wider on the wings.

"We had worked on a few different things in the week, and decided to change it around a little bit. We played a flat four in midfield and four at the back, but in the second half, because we were chasing the game, people were making runs and switching positions and doing things to try and affect the game, so we had quite a fluid formation. Unfortunately, nothing that we tried came off for us on the day.

"They've had two chances and scored two goals. That's been the story of our season really, but all we can do is keep going and keep plugging away. We had a lot of good opportunities, and on another day one of those could have gone in and we could have got a draw out of the game."

Controversy once again reared its ugly head in the form of another disputed refereeing decision. Brevett, doing his best to remain diplomatic, made a quick comment and then moved on to talk about Liverpool.

"It looked like a clear-cut penalty. I think Boa Morte has got a reputation with referees now, and I think they're expecting a dive rather than looking to see whether there has actually been a foul or not.

"Liverpool are a very strong side and they work very hard. Really, they rely on long balls - they don't really play through the middle or pass the ball around much, they just knock the ball forward for the two big lads up front and just play off them. And to be fair, that was effective for them. But I don't think they've got the same quality as Arsenal who can actually go out and take teams on."

Brevett couldn't remember the last time Fulham had lost this many games on the spin, and he admitted that it has to have some impact on the players. What's important now is that they show they've got the character to put that behind them and bounce right back.

"When you win games it's breeds confidence, and obviously when you lose a few then you do start to question what you're doing a bit. But all we can do is keep going and work as hard as we can.

"It's not a good feeling for any of us to lose games in front of our fans, and it's something we don't want to happen. It's a massive game again now - from now until the end of the season every game is big if we want to finish well up the table. We're in tenth position now and there a lot of teams just behind us so it's really important for us to start winning games again - now more than ever.

"It's been depressing to have lost these last few games, but I think there's a determination in the team and the Club to do well. Perhaps we can make it up to everybody by beating Chelsea on Wednesday and then go on to win the Cup!"

Losing these last three games has been a bitter pill for the supporters to swallow after becoming accustomed to so much success over the last few years, but is there one amongst us who wouldn't settle for that in exchange for seeing Rufus get his wish of beating the Blues and then lifting the FA Cup in May? Keep those fingers crossed.