Claudio Ranieri‘s Fulham lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace and are now seven points from safety in the Premier League.
The Cottagers missed a big early chance as Aleksandar Mitrovic headed wide, and they never recovered from Cyrus Christie handling in the box to give away a cheap penalty kick.
Speaking after the game, Ranieri made a point of saying Fulham were in trouble when he arrived back in November.
“The first half was good until the penalty, we had the match in our hands. We controlled the match. The penalty changed the match. They deserved to win in the second half, they were better than us. They had three or four chances – well done to Roy.
“The service to Mitrovic was not good enough. We spoke a lot about crosses, crosses, crosses. I tried to do something – I put another striker on but it wasn’t good. We were in trouble from the beginning but we will continue to be positive, be strong. It’s important to be optimistic. We have a target in our mind.”
That last part just sounds like Ranieri trying to remind everyone that Fulham were in deep trouble when he replaced Slavisa Jokanovic. And they were.
But Fulham have only picked up three wins in Ranieri’s 13 PL games in charge and although they had plenty of the ball at Selhurst Park they couldn’t penetrate Palace’s defense at all. Going forward, for once, they struggled but it was the same story at the back as defensive mistakes are costing them dear.
With games against Man United, West Ham, Southampton, Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool and Man City in their next seven, it is tough to see where the points are coming from for Fulham to get themselves out of trouble.
Fulham skipper Tom Cairney bemoaned their mistake in the first half against Palace and summed up the magnitude of the task ahead.
“A sloppy penalty gave them something to hold on to, that’s frustrating. They were as desperate as us for the points,” Cairney said. “We need wins. Quite a few wins. I think it will be less than 40 points to stay up this year. I am confident we can do it, we have got to believe.”