Wales defender Andy Melville has backed managerial novice Chris Coleman to succeed at Fulham.
Coleman, who lined up alongside Melville at the back for club and country, has been handed one of the toughest jobs in football with Fulham tipped for Premiership relegation this season.
With Craven Cottage out of commission, the Londoners have to play their home matches at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road.
And, with club owner Mohamed Al-Fayed now resident in Switzerland and rumoured to be cooling on his Fulham interest, the Cottagers have earned the tag of crisis club before a Premiership ball has been kicked.
Melville believes Fulham and Coleman have the nous to be able to surprise all the pundits.
“Everyone at Fulham is aware that a lot of people out there are predicting a tough campaign for the club. Some people are even saying we are relegation candidates this year and, although they’re entitled to their opinion, I really don’t think they’re giving the team enough credit.
I can understand up to a point why there are worries. We have an inexperienced manager in Chris Coleman and we have been a lot quieter in the transfer market than in previous summers, but I don’t agree at all that these factors spell doom and gloom for the club.
Of course, it’s true that Chris is a relative novice in managerial terms. But you can only appreciate the impact he’s already made at the club from the inside. He’s the first to admit he’s got a lot to learn in his new role, but he has the 100 per cent support and faith of the players – and that is always the first and most important hurdle to get over for any new manager.
‘Chris has made it crystal clear who’s in charge, but he’s big enough to let everyone have some input. He’s not afraid to listen to other people’s opinions and he wants players to speak up if they’re unhappy. All the squad have responded to that openness and perhaps it’s because he’s so recently retired as a player himself that he understands how to get the best out of us.’