Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen says it can’t get any worse for his beleaguered club.
Their fourth manager in four years watched his club, sitting in 20th place in the Premier League with 14 matches to go, use its home FA Cup fourth-round replay with League One’s Sheffield United to throw up a 1-0 tournament exit.
“If you talk about this game and ask ‘Have we hit rock bottom?’, we probably have,” Meulensteen told British television network ITV4. “If you say that, then it cannot get any worse, it can only get better.”
Problem is: it can.
Fulham has 19 points through 24 rounds and even a shock win over Manchester United on the weekend would still have them in the relegation zone come next week. After rebounding from a 6-0 thrashing at Hull to beat West Ham on New Year’s Day, Fulham has lost four in Premier League succession.
Those games include three scoreless losses (Arsenal, Swansea, Southampton) and a 4-1 spanking from Sunderland.
“We could have played until next month and not scored a goal,” Meulensteen added. “I think the knocks we have picked up over the last couple of weeks have definitely had an influence on the confidence.
“When it happens, that is when you need to stick together. We know we only have ourselves to blame, we need to look in each other’s eyes and dig ourselves out of it.”
Fulham’s next eight dates include the aforementioned match against Manchester United in addition to visits from Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle, as well as a trip to Manchester City. It doesn’t look pretty for Fulham, who will also lose all-time leading scorer Clint Dempsey to the end of his loan deal soon (not that he’s done much of anything so far in a currently disappointing return to England).
But the Cottagers are coming off a seemingly successful transfer window that saw them pick up Lewis Holtby and John Heitinga on loan in addition to their big ticket acquisition of Kostas Mitroglou from Olympiacos.
The web site Sportsclubstats says Fulham have an 82 percent chance to get relegated and 50 percent chance to finish dead last in the PL. Does that feel about right to you, or can Rene pull his boys out of dangers against the odds?