Felix Magath rued the early loss of Brede Hangeland to injury after seeing his side fall to a 3-1 defeat at home to Chelsea.
In his first game in the Cottage dugout, Magath had to make a change in the 13th minute when Hangeland was forced to depart the action following a nasty clash of heads with teammate Kieran Richardson.
The incident had occurred a few minutes before but, after trying to battle on, Hangeland eventually had to make way.
And the Fulham boss believed his skipper’s absence played a big part as Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle scored three times in 17 second-half minutes to put the visitors in the ascendency, with John Heitinga’s late effort proving no more than a consolation.
“We had control of the game in the first half and didn’t give Chelsea many chances,” said Magath. “We had two or three good situations but after half-time the team forgot how to defend.
“It was a big problem our Captain was injured and wasn’t there in the second half. I don’t know how Brede is. I hope he will come back and join us next week. I don’t think we would have made such mistakes with Brede. He is the heart of the team and it was under control with him. He’s a very important player for us. He’s going to the hospital and I hope he’ll be okay.”
Magath vowed to work on the defensive side of Fulham’s game in training next week with 10 games remaining in the league this season for the Whites to secure survival.
“We will do more defensive work on the training pitch next week,” he stated. “I have seldom seen such a goal like the first today. Andre Schurrle ran the whole field and scored. There wasn’t any contact.
“We have to work on our defence. As I said it was a good game in the first 45 minutes. But if you take over a team that have no wins for the last few weeks they are losing confidence and hope. We started well and tried hard but after going behind, it was harder to come back. Our leader was injured and it was too difficult a situation for the team for the moment.”
Fulham head to fellow strugglers Cardiff City on Saturday in what is a massive game for both clubs.
“For sure there is hope,” said Magath. “Chelsea are the leading team in the Barclays Premier league. We didn’t win but nobody expected us to. For the next game in Cardiff, it will be better.”
Magath made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion last week, opting to drop Lewis Holtby to the bench.
Explaining his decision, Magath added: “We wanted to fight against Chelsea as they had the better players. We had to prepare for a game where Chelsea would have control. For the first 45 minutes it was right. Lewis is a player who is very skilful but against Chelsea it’s difficult to create chances.”