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Prematch manager comments - 20.11.05

last updated Friday 18th November 2005, 3:34 PM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Fulham Manager Chris Coleman is worried the January transfer window could see some of his best players leave Craven Cottage.

Coleman is worried any moves during the transfer window could disrupt his squad.

"It is four weeks of madness and I don't like it very much," he admitted.

"We will try to get one or two players in ourselves because we have a pretty thin squad, but it works the other way as well.

"We know there will be plenty of bigger clubs breathing down our necks for our top players and it can be pretty disruptive. I'll be glad when it is over."

Coleman has had to fight tooth and nail to maintain the quality of his squad after chairman and owner Mohamed Al Fayed all but blocked transfer spending.

Coleman looked certain to lose Portuguese winger Luis Boa Morte to Newcastle at the start of the season when the Magpies made a new bid for the former Arsenal and Southampton player.

But Coleman pulled off a master stroke by awarding Boa Morte a new contract and making him captain.

Newcastle have seemingly reset their sights on Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop who has become one of the star turns in London, while French ace Steed Malbranque's current contract runs out at the end of the season.

Coleman said: "We have no great worries about Papa. He has two more years left on his contract but we have started talks with him about extending it and there has been an encouraging response.

"It is the same with Steed. All I know with him is that we have a fit, talented, very committed player on our hands and we're confident he'll put his name to a new deal in the next few weeks."

Boa Morte is out of Fulham's trip to Middlesbrough on Sunday after collecting five cautions this season, while American defender Carlos Bocanegra and Danish midfielder Claus Jensen are missing through injuries.

Coleman added: "We are a bit short but still have enough to go up there and get something. Middlesbrough are playing in the UEFA Cup next week at AZ Alkmaar and that might be an advantage to us.

"After that we face Bolton who also have UEFA Cup commitments and it's a chance to string some wins together."

Fulham go the Riverside after impressive home wins over Liverpool and Manchester City but with bitter memories of last season's clash with Steve McClaren's side who scored a highly-controversial stoppage-time penalty to pinch a 1-1 draw.

Coleman was left seething at referee Rob Styles and was rapped by the Football Association, but said: "How can I say I wouldn't react again to a decision like that? It wasn't even debatable.

"It is an emotional game and I live every match with my heart in my mouth but that penalty made escaping relegation twice as difficult for us last season and this season we want to be in the top 10. For us that would be a great year."

Middlesbrough Manager Steve McClarenMiddlesbrough Manager Steve McClaren could be boosted by the return of skipper Gareth Southgate, who has fought his way back from a groin injury two weeks ahead of schedule.

Boro will welcome back goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and striker Mark Viduka back from their heroics with Australia in midweek.

Viduka laid on the goal which took the Socceroos' play-off clash with Uruguay in Sydney into extra-time, but it was Schwarzer who pulled off the two penalty saves after his team-mate had missed in the shoot-out to take his country to their first World Cup finals since 1974.

Schwarzer's compatriot Brad Jones will be on stand-by to deputise as he and Viduka make the long trip back to the north-east, while the striker is likely to find himself back on the bench at best with Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink currently the men in possession.

Middlesbrough defender Stuart Parnaby is confident Spanish star Gaizka Mendieta can provide the spark to rekindle the club's Barclays Premiership campaign.

The 31-year-old former Valencia, Lazio and Barcelona midfielder has been in stunning form since his return from the knee injury which wrecked last season for him.

He turned in a man-of-the-match display in the 4-1 demolition of Manchester United on October 29, scoring twice and ripping the visitors to shreds with his range of passing and invention.

That game was the high point in a topsy-turvy season which has seen the Teessiders defeat both Arsenal and United, but lose to struggling Sunderland and Everton.

Boro entertain Fulham on Sunday needing to bounce back from a 1-0 reverse at Goodison Park last time out if they are to improve upon their current standing of 13th place, and Parnaby believes Mendieta can be a major influence.

"He's unbelievable," he said. "He showed against Manchester United what a player he is. He's another one you just hope can keep it going for the rest of the season and stay fit."

It is only a few years ago that Lazio paid Valencia £28.9million for the Bilbao-born player, and Parnaby has seen during his time at the Riverside Stadium just why he commanded such a huge fee.

"You don't get that kind of thing if you haven't got the ability," he said. "Obviously, he was just looking for the right club, and he found it coming here.

"From what I know, he's enjoying it here and I think that helps, if you have got the right people around you, the right team-mates, it helps.

"As a young lad, they are the kind of players you want to play against, but you don't think you are ever going to be lucky enough to play with.

"When you end up playing with them, it's a big thing - just for us in training, the young lads - to play with players like that.

"But once you are in training, you have just got to think of them as any other player and stop them however you can."

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