Martin Jol knows his Fulham side will need to put in an improved performance when they face Liverpool at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon (3pm).
The Whites were well below par in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat by Reading – a result that still rankles with the Fulham boss.
“We spoke about it [the Reading loss] and we did well in training this week,” he explained in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon. “It was a bit different as well because we started off with a big chance in the first minute.
“Then we conceded the penalty kick and we are chasing the game, but we could have been level at 3-3 when Hugo Rodallega had his shot that hit the bar. In hindsight, we worked hard second half to try to get back into it but it was awful to get all these goals against us.
“But that is us – every time when we need a result or are 1-0 down it’s not easy for us because we give away a lot of space at the back. We are a good team, we play compact and stay together but, if not, sometimes you end up with a problem because Reading were very lively with no pressure, and it showed.”
Liverpool travel to SW6 without suspended top scorer Luis Suarez and injured talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, but Jol is not reading too much into the absence of the England skipper, although he admitted any team would miss a player of his calibre.
“You never know, last year we beat them twice and there were no problems injury-wise for them,” he said. “But maybe it helps because he is one of the better midfield players over the last 10 years in England. I can’t say I’m glad that he’s in the stands or that he’s injured – I don’t want that for a player – but maybe it helps a bit if he’s not there.”
Having hit the much-coveted 40 point mark almost a month ago now, it was hoped that Fulham would spend the remainder of the campaign consolidating their place in the top half of the Barclays Premier League.
Frustratingly, a poor run of form has kicked in and, having taken just one point from our last six matches, relegation is still a real – albeit unlikely – possibility.
With the way the league’s fixtures have fallen, it is highly doubtful that the Whites are in any true danger, but Jol admits he would like to make sure of safety through our own results, rather than relying on other teams.
“If you saw us, it was in April when we got to 40 points when we got that point against Aston Villa,” the Dutchman said. “Of course I knew that it was very important to be on 40 points because when you saw the schedule ahead of us with Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle, Everton, you can imagine that we were a bit concerned.
“The 40 points gave us a bit of a cushion, and it still is a cushion but, mathematically, we’re not safe yet. We will focus on ourselves to try to get a result to be safe.
“You saw the Wigan result [defeat by Swansea in midweek], so that helped. Of course we need a result but it depends on other games as well, for example Aston Villa versus Chelsea [on Saturday].
“So we will look at the other results but we will look at ourselves as well. Even when results are going for us, we still have to try to finish the season on a very good note.”
Our Manager also provided the latest team news, revealing that he had no fresh concerns, but that Mladen Petrić would be making a welcome return to the matchday squad having missed the Reading defeat through injury.
“It’s always nice to see Petrić back but, of course, when Dimitar Berbatov plays it’s probably not a guarantee for him to play,” he explained. “In other news, Ashkan Dejagah is still out until pre-season and the same applies to Mahamadou Diarra. And Simon Davies still has a problem with his hip.”