René Meulensteen hailed a job well done after his Fulham side booked their place in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.
Goals from Darren Bent, Ashkan Dejagah and Steve Sidwell saw off the challenge of Norwich City at Craven Cottage in the Third Round Replay and the Head Coach was pleased with his much-changed side’s display.
“We’re doing a lot of things well,” he said. “On Saturday against Sunderland we controlled the game and should have got our noses in front. But we didn’t. We conceded from set-plays and these things need to be impressed. We know our defensive record isn’t good enough and we need to improve upon it. That’s why tonight we set out to get a clean sheet and for most of the game we were in pretty good defensive shape.
“If we keep clean sheets, we’ll win games because we have enough quality so score goals. The FA Cup is fantastic competition. We’re always trying to get the best possible result in every game. Nothing positive comes out of losing so we want to get into the habit of positive performances. This was a positive performance. We kept a clean sheet and we’re into the next round of the cup.”
There were plenty of plus points on the night for Fulham. Brede Hangeland and Maarten Stekelenburg came through their respective comebacks from injury, Dan Burn impressed on his home debut and Darren Bent found the net once again.
“Having Brede back was a great boost,” said Meulensteen. “He’s done very well after his surgery and trained very hard to get back. Sunderland was a bit too early but it was great to see him come through the 90 minutes tonight. Arsenal on Saturday is a different kettle of fish away from home but we’ll review this game with Brede and go from there.
“We were very pleased to see Maarten back. It was a very unfortunate injury. It didn’t look too bad at the time but we’re glad to see him back; he was excellent.”
Young defender Burn impressed at the heart of the defence alongside Hangeland on his home debut and Meulensteen continued: “He’s been a breath of fresh air. He did well in the away game and he’s matured a lot at Birmingham City after a very good loan spell. Next to Brede, he looked very comfortable. It’s great for him to have someone like Brede alongside him but he’s a very bright boy. He’s not afraid to speak his mind and it was a very positive performance.
“Darren Bent scored away at Norwich and he scored again tonight. Does it give me a headache for Saturday? I never have headaches!”
Meanwhile, Meulensteen confirmed the Club had seen a bid for West Ham United’s England Under-21 midfielder Ravel Morrison rejected by the East London club.
“We got knocked back,” said Meulensteen, who expects Bryan Ruiz’s loan switch to PSV Eindhoven to go through on Wednesday. “The bid for Ravel got rejected so we need to review it and move on. I left it with [Chief Executive Officer] Alistair Mackintosh and we’ll have to wait and see what happens. He would add youthfulness, energy, unpredictability, attacking strength, loads of things.
“I make my desires clear and then leave it to the relevant people to deal with it. We all know it’s very difficult in the January transfer window. A lot of clubs are in the same situation. Things always happen in the last week.”