Martin Jol wants Fulham to banish the memories of Anfield and put in a vastly improved performance on Saturday.
Swansea City are the visitors to Craven Cottage and the Manager insisted that his charges have been working hard to eradicate the mistakes that were made in the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in their previous outing.
“That is 14 days, two weeks ago, so it’s a new game coming up, new spells coming up so, of course, we want to do better,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “We did everything in our capabilities to improve on everything and, of course, we had international games, but we had a lot of players here and we tried to work well with them.
“Swansea play in a very good way and that’s a way we would like to play in, and we did. I think over the last couple of years Swansea did extremely well. The nice thing is that over the two years we’ve got more points than them, so that’s very positive – people don’t notice that, but it’s true.
“We want to come back [to form] – we had a very good game where we scored four goals against Crystal Palace but after that, in the away games, we dropped and didn’t play with rhythm.
“We couldn’t get the ball in the final third and we looked a bit, not lethargic, but a little bit tired, and I now think we’ve got back to business and we trained well. Scotty Parker is not playing for the national team, Dimitar Berbatov was here, Darren Bent was here so I’ve had a lot of players [around over the international break] and we trained well so we are ready for Saturday.”
Fulham will still be without Captain Brede Hangeland for the weekend’s clash with the Swans, while fellow Whites stalwart Damien Duff will also be absent for the game.
“Brede is not back this weekend,” Jol confirmed. “He’s still suffering from this nerve and it’s a real problem so he won’t be involved. I don’t know how long it will take, I really thought week by week that he would come back but he didn’t.
“All the international players reported back fit and well but Duff has got a minor abductor issue – he’s back in training now. We played a game against Crystal Palace last Thursday and he had this problem in the second half so we had to take him off. It took him a week and he was training again on Friday but he’s not 100 per cent ready yet to be included in the squad.
“And the other one, of course, is Hugo Rodallega – he will be returning to full training in two weeks time. Matthew Briggs is still injured after his surgery.”
With Rodallega still sidelined, Jol is left with just two fit First Team strikers and, with Marcello Trotta out on loan, the Manager has turned to the Academy’s Moussa Dembélé who has scored 19 league goals for the Club’s Under-18 and Under-21 sides this season.
The Frenchman has rightly earned rave reviews for his clinical exploits, but Jol was keen not to put unnecessary pressure on his shoulders, citing the fact that the Barclays Premier League is a huge step up.
“Dembélé turned 17 four months ago so don’t expect too much,” he warned. “You get all these talks but you don’t see them in the Premier League. You see players who are probably 20, 21; Steven Caulker, Kyle Walker, Ben Davies at Swansea.
“He [Moussa] is certainly young but I think he’s a very talented boy. As you know, we’ve got an injury with Hugo so I’ve [only] got Berbatov and Bent so I included Dembélé in the squad for tomorrow.”
Saturday’s game will be the first since the arrival of new Head Coach Rene Meulensteen last week, and Jol was quick to express his pleasure at securing the services of his compatriot.
“I’m very pleased,” he admitted. “I really thought that he was making a choice for something else; first Germany, then Qatar. He went to Qatar and then, fortunately enough, it was maybe coincidence, I texted him again and he said that he would come back.
“I thought that we needed something, more rhythm. Of course, if you play against Southampton away, or Manchester United or Liverpool, it’s not easy but I thought we didn’t play with rhythm anymore and we needed to play with more energy.
“That’s what we worked on in training and, as I said, I thought we needed something and I think he was the right guy, but now we need the results. I think there’s a good spirit, and we’ll try to play in the style I want to play; quick football, offensive football, with one or two touches.”