Slavisa Jokanovic refused to be downcast after Fulham’s Premier League return ended in a defeat by Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
The Whites were beaten by a splendid Jeffrey Schlupp strike and a piece of predatory finishing from Wilfred Zaha after a mistake from Fabri in the Fulham goal. But Jokanovic told his press conference following the final whistle that the Whites would learn from the defeat and come back stronger.
The Serbian head coach said:
We wanted to start the competition with a positive result. We showed some positive things, and some negative things. It’s the first time we’ve tested ourselves at this level – we found more power, speed and quality, and we must adapt ourselves fast.
I can’t fault my players. They put everything into it. We created some chances. Crystal Palace’s keeper made a few great saves. We followed our style and moved the ball. On the defensive side, we found it hard to stop [Wilfried] Zaha and [Christian] Benteke, who showed quality.
He felt Palace’s experience of top flight football and their clinical finishing in the final third was the true difference between the sides:
Palace know this level better than us. We competed well and didn’t change our philosophy. Generally, I’m happy we followed the plan, but they punished us with speed, power and quality. For the first goal, [Jeffrey] Schlupp turned really quickly and smashed it in. For the second goal, we made a few mistakes and they finished the action and killed the game.
At this level, you normally pay an expensive price for mistakes. We’re in a process of working and learning, and I’m sure we’ll be better during the weeks in front of us. It’s a fantastic afternoon. We can’t start crying after the first day. Premier League is back at Craven Cottage after four years.
Jokanovic hailed the Fulham fans for their support and insisted his side would emerge stronger from the experience.
The atmosphere was fantastic. Our crowd pushed us, like always. It’s a shame that we can’t make them completely satisfied, but the fans know it’s not going to be easy. We’re ready for the challenge. We’re ready for the fight