Fulham boss Martin Jol admitted there is still plenty of room for improvement after seeing his side snatch a late win against Stoke City.
The game appeared to be heading for a draw until substitute Darren Bent popped up with seven minutes remaining to grab the victory for the Whites and move Jol’s side out of the bottom three.
“We’re relieved to be without pressure because any team under pressure won’t perform as well as they’re capable of,” said Jol afterwards. “We saw that again today and we were a bit lucky. Stoke didn’t create a lot of chances but Robert Huth had two clear chances from set-pieces. We worked on that the whole week and they still had clear headers. So we have to do better as we’ve conceded a lot of goals from set-pieces. We have to improve on a lot of things. But I was still happy with the three points because that was what we needed.
“We have to do better on the ball. Today I had to play with Pajtim Kasami and Damien Duff on the sides and that doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. Ashkan Dejagah is still not quite there and we had a couple of players not available. But you could see we work ever so hard so no-one could fault our application but we have to take control and dominate teams like Stoke.”
After seeing his side concede goals in the last few minutes on three occasions in the league this season, it was Fulham who enjoyed some late luck for once thanks to Bent’s strike.
Jol said: “I don’t mind late or early goals, for me the most important thing is the three points. We’re on seven points now and lots of teams will be feeling under pressure. Hopefully we’ll get out of there soon but it could be a struggle for a lot of teams. Bent will have a good season. He knows my intentions and sometimes he can’t start.”
Jol had to take off the injured Brede Hangeland at half-time, while Dimitar Berbatov limped off in the second period. Berbatov was replaced by Bent – and the enforced change paid off for Jol.
“Hangeland had a stiff right side of his back and he couldn’t play on,” said Jol. “But I have Fernando Amorebieta and he’s a terrific centre-back. Of course, these substitutions don’t make you stronger as Dimitar Berbatov had to come off also and then you have to come up with something different. I really wanted to get Darren Bent on alongside Berbatov in the latter stages of the game. But I had to take off Berbatov for Bent - if he’d stayed fit I probably would have left him on! It’s great to have a player like Darren on the bench and he could have scored two after he came on.
“But we can still do more. We could do more with Bryan Ruiz. Our passing could be a bit more accurate – Bryan’s very good in the final third but he sometimes tries to do too much. Fernando is a defender I like; he doesn’t back off. He can close people down and we have to do better with other players as well if we want to be in control.”