Martin Jol was left to rue a critical 12-minute spell as Manchester United ran out 3-1 winners over the Whites at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.
After Antonio Valencia had given his side the lead within the opening 10 minutes, United were three up midway through the first half as they took control of the game.
To give Fulham credit, heads didn’t drop and the home side largely enjoyed the better of the play from thereon in, culminating in Alexander Kačaniklić’s second half strike. By then, though, the damage was done and Jol was left cursing the early lapses.
“To be 3-0 down, it’s not us,” he said in his post-match press conference. “And if you want to do well you can’t concede goals like that.
“We were ambitious before the game and we wanted to do well and I’ve got a great team spirit in the team. Dimitar Berbatov was skipper again so he wanted to win as captain, and they wanted to win for him and maybe a little bit for me, and for the Club, of course, but to concede goals like that, it looked horrendous.
“We’re on 10 points and we needed a result, like Newcastle United today [against Chelsea], but I still feel that if you look at these games against Stoke City and Crystal Palace then we have shown that we are capable of getting results against normal, good teams. But Man United was a big ask today, especially after this short period of time, this 12 minutes [where three goals were conceded].”
Fulham showed plenty of attacking intent throughout the encounter and actually had 15 shots compared to United’s 10, and Jol admitted that although he cannot be pleased with the scoreline, he could at least take some consolation from his players’ attitudes.
“I have to be honest, the first 10 minutes, end of the first half, the whole second half, I think we are much better than we showed, for example, in that short [12 minute] spell,” Jol explained.
“At half-time we sat together and they were so good, my boys, they wanted to do well, they wanted to show character and that is what we told them as well, they have to show character. I take responsibility and so I can’t say that I’m a happy customer but I was really happy that we came back to 3-1.
“We could have scored the second one with the Darren Bent chance or Kieran Richardson’s. 3-2 would have looked a bit better but if you saw the game, three goals in 12 minutes, you fear for the worst. The first half we couldn’t get near their midfield players. We backed off and the most disappointing thing is in this 12 minutes we gave them too much distance and space and that is not what we should do.”
The Fulham Manager was quizzed as to whether the result puts further pressure on his position, to which he responded: “That is a question we get every week and any manager in the league will get this question if you are in the bottom half of the table.
“The only thing is, you want to turn it around, like Newcastle did today and we couldn’t do that because we looked awful over that short spell of time in the first half. We started off well, then we gave it away and they played through our defence like a knife through the butter.”
He continued: “Sometimes I worry if the supporters are on my back but, on the other hand, I think it’s better that they are on my back than the players’ backs. If you saw the reaction of the players in the second half, I felt better again.
“I know that there are always six or seven clubs in trouble and I know that we are a better team than six or seven others and we will pick up points. We have to anyway and I think we will be fine in the end but to play against Man United doesn’t help if you want to turn things and get back on the winning track – it’s not easy to play against them.”