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Prematch Comment - Charlton v Fulham

last updated Monday 17th October 2005, 10:40 AM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Fulham boss Chris Coleman is prepared to dispense with his philosophy of attractive, attacking football as Fulham chase a desperately needed victory at high-flying Charlton.

Fulham are stuck in the bottom three of the Barclays Premiership after making their worst ever start in the top flight with just one win - against struggling Everton - in eight games.

Coleman is convinced his side have deserved more but the pain of seeing Fulham rooted in the relegation zone is too much to bear and he has demanded a win of any sort at The Valley.

"I can sit here all day and say how well we are playing and that it is all good attacking football - but we are not getting the points," said Coleman.

"I don't care how they come now, we just need the points.

"We have only played eight games but I don't like looking at the table and seeing my team in the bottom three. It's not a nice place to be.

"It's the first time it's happened to me. It's another new experience for me but it's something we need to deal with right now.

"We can't make excuses. I know we have been playing well, the players know we have been playing well, the supporters know we have been playing well, the chairman knows we have been playing well but we are third from bottom. We shouldn't be there and we need to change that."

Coleman has the luxury of an extra two days with his players following the international break and he has spent the time instilling a mean streak into a defence that has been too prone to sloppy mistakes.

But given Fulham's current predicament, two extra days was still not enough given he had been without the majority of his squad for a fortnight.

"It's been difficult because you look at the league table and you are bottom three and you can't do anything about it," he said.

"Two weeks in football is a long time. I have found that really hard and the players have been frustrated.

"But we have a chance at Charlton to do something about it and put some points on the board."

Coleman received a vote of confidence in the week from Fulham chairman Mohamed al-Fayed as he deals with the first major crisis of his time in charge at Craven Cottage.

"We have never been in a relegation scrap, not in my time here. We have always been thought about as relegation strugglers but we have finished mid-table, top 10," said Coleman.

"The most frustrating thing is we have been playing quite well. If it was this time last year and we were bottom three I could understand it, but we have been playing better this year.

"But we have not been able to turn the performances into results and that is what it is all about."

And that is what Coleman is demanding of his men tomorrow - produce whatever performance is required to get the win and lift the club out of the bottom three.

Charlton Coach Charlton manager Alan Curbishley admits he fears Claus Jensen will add another virtuoso Valley performance to his collection on Monday night.

The Dane was a big favourite at the south London club for a four-year period from 2000 to 2004 after Curbishley paid Bolton £1.6million for his services.

But that love affair came to an end at the start of last season when he decided to move on and Fulham paid £4million to enable him to make the short journey across the capital.

Now the 28-year-old returns as the fulcrum of a Cottagers side that has made such a poor start to the new season they will kick off third from bottom of the Barclays Premiership.

Curbishley's side have been far more impressive and can reclaim second spot with a victory but the former West Ham player admitted Jensen was a threat.

He said: "It was all very disappointing when Claus left us. He had one year left on his contract and he didn't want to sign for us.

"He made that clear but it wasn't because he didn't like us, it was he just felt he needed a change.

"He had been with us for four years and had been one of the players who had been instrumental in establishing ourselves in the Premiership.

"He had a difficult year last year with a lot of injuries but he looks back to his best and I'm sure he will be looking forward to the Valley.

"I hope our fans give him the reception I feel he deserves because while he was with us he conducted himself properly and put the performances in.

"We are looking forward to seeing him but I just hope he doesn't doing anything for us to remember him by."

Charlton have won five out of their seven league games so far and lost the other two. Those reverses were at home however, and to London rivals, with Chelsea winning 2-0 and Spurs coming back from 2-0 down to triumph 3-2 in the last match before the break for international games.

That nevertheless represents the club's best start to a Premiership season and Curbishley insisted it would be even more impressive had Chelsea not been so invincible.

He said: "To take 15 points from seven games will always put you near the top of the table and if Chelsea had drawn two of their eight then there would have been a more realistic look to the league. But they have won all of them so that's where the gap is."

Fulham manager Chris Coleman has seen his side win just once, meanwhile, and the pressure will be on the Welshman come kick-off.

Curbishley had words of empathy for a man who had been appointed as Jean Tigana's successor without any previous managerial experience.

He said: "Since Chris took over there has been a little bit of a change at Fulham. The spending spree has ended and it needed someone to pick up from that and carry it on - and I think he has done as well as anybody could have done.

"They play good football and I'm sure that they will be thinking that from their eight games they could have had a few more points. I saw them against Spurs and they did not deserve to lose.

"They are at the wrong end of the table now but that won't hurt him if he gets through it because he is still young. The experience will stand him in good stead."

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