Martin Jol is anticipating a stern test when Cardiff City arrive at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon, but is confident his Fulham side have enough about them to emerge with three points.
The Welsh outfit currently sit two places and one point above the Whites in the Barclays Premier League table, and Jol admitted he’s been impressed with what he’s since from the newly promoted side.
“If you look at Cardiff, they’ve not conceded many goals,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “There are a lot of teams who have conceded more goals than them. I wouldn’t say they look defensive but they look very organised, especially if you saw their home game against Manchester City.
“They look very organised, they’ve got pace up front and they’ve always got this mentality that they would like to hurt you. So it’s not a walkover, of course, it’s a strong team with good qualities. They invested a few bob as well so it won’t be easy but how many games are easy in the league? Hopefully we’re strong enough.”
A big chunk of the money spent that Jol refers to went on striker Andreas Cornelius who cost a reported £8.5m fee when he arrived in the summer from FC Copenhagen. The 20-year-old was a man that Fulham had been keeping an eye on, but Jol is happy with the manner in which the Club bolstered their forward options.
“We knew him and he was on what we call our shadow list but I thought that it was too much and that we couldn’t afford to buy him,” he explained. “I think there are other solutions and when you look at us over the last couple of years, we had good strikers on free transfers or on loan, so we do it on a sort of different level but the level is still high.
“Cornelius is a young player for the future, and we’ve got Darren Bent, for example. That is probably not for the long term because he will go back to Aston Villa probably, but during the time he’s here hopefully he will score goals and hopefully more than Cornelius.”
The Whites go into Saturday’s game on the back of one of our most impressive performances of the season, and Jol hopes his men can use the momentum from the Everton match against Cardiff.
“I think for any team it’s important that you get wins under your belt,” he admitted. “I think it helps, that’s for sure, if you’ve got a win. Don’t forget that they [Everton] had a chance in the final minute, an unbelievable chance, and if they would have scored it would have been different.
“We would have to play half an hour extra-time. They didn’t [score] so that’s what you need, you need a little bit of luck as well and, of course, you need the quality, and I think our second goal was quality. I don’t think they had a defeat before and Everton is a very strong team so I was happy to do that because it’s not only about them, the opposition, it’s about us.
“I feel you always have to surprise people – you have to come up with good results, but you need weapons as well and I think if you’ve got the weapons, like we did against Everton, then I think we will do well at home.”
Fulham currently occupy the final relegation place in the league having only secured one victory to date, but our Manager insisted it’s fine margins that determine how well teams do and that there would have been a different perspective on the situation had we beaten West Bromwich Albion.
“The difference between being successful and not is nothing,” he said. “If we would have won that game against West Brom we would have been in the top half of the table. And if you see the teams above us with similar points, or one more on five points, that’s nothing.
“On the other hand, we have to count our blessings because we beat Sunderland away from home and can you imagine if we hadn’t have done that? Then [against Sunderland] we scored the goal at the right moment but we didn’t do that after. Even at Newcastle United we should have had at least a point, or more, and didn’t.
“I don’t talk about Arsenal because I thought Arsenal punished us on the break, and that’s what we have to learn as well; if we concede a goal, we have to be organised.”
Jol could welcome forward Bryan Ruiz back to the squad at the weekend after he recovered from injury ahead of schedule, while Aaron Hughes is also in contention for a return.
“Aaron will join us tomorrow and he will do a fitness test,” the Dutchman revealed. “Bryan is the same – I think he could be involved but we are not 100 per cent certain yet because he hasn’t trained with me, so he will join us on Friday.
“Ashkan Dejagah is still out with his calf, Maarten Stekelenburg is still out with his right shoulder and, of course, Matthew Briggs had that operation on his hernia.”