0 users online

Prematch Comment - Fulham v Derby County

last updated Friday 11th February 2005, 3:40 PM
Fulham boss Chris Coleman

Fulham Manager Chris Coleman believes Fulham have got what it takes to go all the way in the FA Cup this year.

The Cottagers host Coca-Cola Championship side Derby in Saturday's fourth-round replay, with a trip to Bolton awaiting the winners.

Both fixtures are "do-able", according to Coleman who is confident he side can carry on their recent improved form and make an impact on the latter stages of the famous knockout competition.

"The cup is important for us, and we are taking it very seriously. Millwall got to the final last year, so why can't we?," asked the Welshman, who guided his team into the last eight of this season's Carling Cup.

"This is a great chance for us to win something.

"Considering we went eight games unbeaten until recently, winning another four or five in a row in the cup is not beyond us.

"I expect us to beat Derby - and if we win we've got Bolton away in the next round, and that's do-able.

"If we drew Man United or Chelsea in the early rounds it would have been hard - but in a one-off later in the tournament, you just don't know.

"The cup is good for the club and a chance of silverware. It's not a distraction. Both games are winnable, and we are very serious about this competition."

While confident his team can progress on Saturday, Coleman is not expecting Derby to offer Fulham a straight-forward passage into round five.

It took a late equaliser from Collins John to secure a 1-1 draw at Pride Park two weeks ago and force a replay against a side pressing for the play-offs.

"It will be a hard game - they made it difficult for us up there," reflected Coleman who had to do without suspended trio Zesh Rehman, Papa Bouba Diop and Carlos Bocanegra for that tie.

"They are a good team and are playing with confidence.

"They will come down to us with nothing to lose or fear, but if we play like I know we can I'm confident we will win the game."

John's strike against Derby was his third goal of the season, and Coleman believes Fulham have yet to see the best of the 19-year-old Liberian-born Dutchman.

"He has got Andy Cole in his position, so he has got that to contend with - but there's more to come from Collins," said the manager.

"He has played out wide, which suits the team, but he would prefer to play in the centre.

"We haven't seen the best of him."

Aston Villa  Manager David O'LearyDerby manager George Burley believes the Rams' chances of FA Cup progress hinge on his players' ability to maintain their concentration levels against Fulham.

The Rams, fifth in the Coca-Cola Championship, meet the Londoners in an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Craven Cottage after drawing 1-1 at Pride Park a fortnight ago.

And with a fifth-round trip against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium awaiting the replay winners, Burley is insisting his team avoid any slip-ups.

Burley, who on Thursday signed a new 12-month rolling contract, said: "Our away record is the best in the Championship, but in Fulham we're playing a Premiership team and that's a very high standard of football.

"All you need to do is give them half a chance and the ball's in the net. You lose concentration and it's a goal.

"It was our lack of concentration which cost us their equaliser when we played them at home, so maintaining our concentration levels is going to be the key."

Burley is likely to persevere with a revamped formation which has seen Morten Bisgaard installed in the pivotal position of a 4-5-1 line-up.

The Dane said: "I used to play a similar role in Denmark, only then it was behind two strikers instead of the one.

"My job is to exploit the space between the opposition midfield and their defenders and it's something I'm gradually getting used to.

"I used to be trying to run all over the pitch but now I've grown to understand you've got to be more intelligent.

"Although I think I've got great energy, it's no good running all over and then being so tired you can't do anything with quality when you eventually get the ball.

"It comes down to timing my runs better and making it difficult for the opposition midfielders and defenders to track me.

"I have to stay switched on defensively, but it's about putting the opposition under pressure when we break."

Source Sporting Life
Since 1998
"It's been updated!"