Sakari Mattila cut a frustrated figure and admitted that Sheffield Wednesday prevented the Whites finding their free-flowing attacking rhythm during the 1-0 home defeat.
After going ahead through Ross Wallace’s 29th thunderbolt, the Owls locked down the Sky Bet Championship’s most potent attack and Fulham could only muster one shot on target despite their 68% of overall possession.
“We’re very disappointed because every game we play here at home we should win,” Mattila told fulhamfc.com
“Their eleven men stood behind and, really, we were too slow to penetrate them. That’s the reason we didn’t get any chances and that’s the reason we need to improve.
“We need to keep on improving and doing what we have done well this season. We’ve done that very well this season but [against Sheffield Wednesday] we didn’t so we need to execute better.
“It was very well defended and they approached an away game this way. They succeeded but we need to be faster and we need to go forward with bigger ambition, and I think that’s where we made the mistake.”
The decisive goal was an unstoppable effort from over 30 yards, but Mattila believes the Whites had a chance to cut off the supply to towering target man Atdhe Nuhiu before the ball was worked out to Wallace.
“We could have avoided it a little bit if we had won the first ball to the striker, which was an extremely hard job,” he continued. “But they won the second ball, played it wide, then the strike was extraordinary. There was nothing Lonners could do.”
Mattila was assigned a protection role in front of a four-man defence in Slaviša Jokanović’s first game in the home dugout and he stuck to the task admirably.
“My role was really clear, to just sit in front of the defence and try to cover their balls to the striker,” added Mattila.
“I tried to make it a hard day for him but otherwise it’s my natural role, I was really happy to get the chance but unfortunately we lost the game.”
Although Jokanović had only spent three days with the Team ahead of the game, Mattila believes there were early signs of the new gaffer’s physical approach.
“I think everybody saw a little bit of his concept,” Mattila said. “It’s really aggressive and really on to the ball and on to the players.
“You find yourself often one-against-one in the way that he wants us to defend and I think we executed that well. We were aggressive and we were fighting for every ball. Maybe a little bit more aggressive than usual.”