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Post Match Reaction - Middlesbrough 2 Fulham 1

last updated Thursday 08th January 2004, 9:44 AM
Fulham boss Chris Coleman will read the riot act to Louis Saha over his mutinous remarks towards club chairman Mohamed Al Fayed.

Fulham Manager Chris Coleman
Fulham manager
Chris Coleman
The striker claimed in the French press that he was "disgusted, dejected and downhearted" that Al Fayed had blocked a "chance of my lifetime" move to Manchester United.

Coleman, speaking after Fulham's 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough, insisted Saha has to get over the disappointment.

He said: "I saw the comments and I'll nip it in the bud. I understand that he's disappointed but he has a job to do at Fulham.

"He's a very, very important part of our team and, although it would be a dream for him to play at Manchester United, us selling a top striker who has 14 goals in January would be bad management by me and bad for the club to do that.

"What's happening at the moment is disruptive but we have to get on with it. I don't like making excuses and I'm not going to start now."

Saha began the match for Fulham despite his outburst and Coleman claimed he was pleased with his display despite the fact the striker only managed one shot.

The Fulham boss added: "There was no hesitation about picking him, none at all. He's a Fulham player and he has 14 goals for us already this season.

"He worked hard, the ball didn't fall for him and Ugo [Ehiogu] whacked him early on to let him know he was in the game but I was happy with his effort. He's a team player.

"The result was disappointing and the goals we conceded were really disappointing. The only positive I can take is that the effort was a lot better than it has been in the last few games."

Teenage left-winger Stewart Downing was the man of the match on his first home Premiership start and he had a hand in both goals from his set-piece deliveries. Joseph-Desire Job scored the first from close range and Szilard Nemeth the clincher with substitute Barry Hayles grabbing a consolation in injury time.

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClarenMiddlesbrough manager Steve McClaren revealed the club were close to agreeing a new contract with 19-year-old Downing, whose current deal runs out at the end of the season.

McClaren said: "We are not far away. Stewart wants to stay with us and we want him to be here. He can play a very important part in the future of this football club."

It was the first time since November 1 that Middlesbrough had managed a league goal at the Riverside and McClaren admitted the home win had come as a relief.

He added: "It was a very important win for us. We said before the game we needed more positive performances and by God they certainly were.

"It was a great performance by the team, we scored two goals and could have had a hatful more."

McClaren said he had no concerns that Job might feel tempted to join up with Cameroon for the African Nations championships.

He added: "His contract's up at the end of the season and he's fighting for a new one. Many more performances like that and he'll soon get one.

"He showed what he can do and he has stated that his future at Middlesbrough is his priority."
Source PA by Chief Sports Reporter Martyn Ziegler
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