I can do better

Thursday 12 September 2002

Alain Goma has surprisingly criticised his own performances this season.

The French defender, who has been a rock at the heart of Fulham's defence since his arrival from Newcastle United, has not been pleased with his start to the season.

Speaking to Fulham Today after Wednesday night's incredible comeback against Spurs, Goma explained that he was far from suffering a loss of confidence. However, he felt that his displays so far this season have been below par.

"I have been a bit disappointed with my performances this season," said Goma. "I think it has taken me some time to warm up and get back to my normal game. I'm now starting to feel happier with my game and I hope that I will be back to my best very soon."

For those not at Loftus Road on Wednesday evening, Goma hardly put a foot wrong and was his usual authoritative self as he partnered Zat Knight in the back line. Watching his performance against Spurs, it would be hard to see what exactly he could be referring to.

Regardless of his self-assessment, Goma was clearly delighted with the outcome on Wednesday.

"Mentally we were strong and that was very good to see. I think the result confirms that we are in good physical and mental condition, which is going to be very important to us this season.

He continued, "The atmosphere was very good especially in the second half when we started pushing for goals. We felt that the fans were totally behind us and it was very exciting to play in those conditions."

The revival was started by man-of-the-moment Junichi Inamoto, who arrowed his sweetly struck shot just inside Keller's right hand post. However, after Barry Hayles was hauled to the ground inside the Spurs penalty area, the pressure was on Steed Malbranque to level the scores.

Having almost single-handedly carried the goalscoring torch for Fulham's midfielders last season, the young Frenchman has found support from his fellow midfield men more forthcoming this time around.

However, it all rested on Steed's shoulders once more as he calmly side-footed the ball past Keller to send those inside the ground into raptures. Goma, in particular, was impressed by Steed's nerves of steel.

"It was quite a big responsibility for him," said Alain. "But with the way he took the penalty and the way he played, he showed that he's an essential player for the squad. The fact that we had some players injured yet we came back and won the game after playing our substitutes was also a good sign. It proved that we are not only a team but also a proper squad."

Fulham now face the long trip up to Sunderland, who will be desperate to set matters straight after their recent local derby wasn't quite as enjoyable as Fulham's - a 3-0 defeat the hands of Middlesbrough.

The Stadium of Light has seen a flurry of transfer activity lately as Peter Reid spent £16 million on squad improvements in the shape of Matt Piper, Phil Babb, Stephen Wright, Marcus Stewart and former-Chelsea front man Tore Andre Flo.

There's no doubt that the Black Cats will pose a significant threat in attack. However, Goma is keen to see Fulham keep their first clean sheet of the Premiership season.

"We need to build up a bit more confidence defensively because I don't think we've kept too many clean sheets this season. First of all it would be nice not to concede any goals on Saturday, then we can look at creating scoring opportunities."