Steve Kean is confident that Fulham will bounce back quickly from a bad day at the office against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Fulham assistant manager couldn’t hide his frustration with the below-par performance at Villa Park when talking to the club’s official website:
“We were very disappointed. The crux of our defeat was the fact that we never really dealt with their crosses. We knew that Villa liked to cross the ball and all of their goals came from balls played into the box.
We could have made it easier for ourselves on the attacking side by giving the man on the ball a few more options; the angles we were making for each other weren’t up to our usual standards, but the positive thing is we know what we’ve got to work on. We know why we lost the game, which is certainly better than us sitting here scratching our heads wondering where we went wrong.”
The Scot felt the underwhelming display in the Midlands was harder to take following Fulham’s excellence on Boxing Day against Southampton.
“We played really well against Southampton and we dealt well with everything they had to offer. The way they played was very similar to the way Villa played; they were very direct, they looked to get the ball forward early, win the second balls and deliver crosses into the box. The difference between the two perfromances from our point of view was that we were winning more of the second balls against Southampton and as a result prevented a lot of their crosses coming into the box.
Villa were not necessarily always looking to hit their strikers with long balls, they also played passes into space behind our fullbacks and let Angel and Vassell run into the channels. I wouldn’t say that it was totally a case of losing individual battles – we also struggled to deal with other aspects on the day. It was probably our best passing display of the season against Southampton. We told the boys to get the ball down and pass it against Villa as well, but to do that, you need to win the ball first.”
Kean is eager to address some of Fulham’s inconsistencies away from home – given that the Whites haven’t won the road since they shocked Manchester United at Old Trafford towards the end of October.
“We know that we have to be right on top of our game all the time. Over the last few months we’ve taken points from teams right at the top, but when we haven’t been on our game, teams towards the bottom of the table have taken points off us. We’ve got to be relaxed on the ball but not so relaxed that we don’t win the fifty-fifty’s.
We certainly need to get back to the sort of away form we took to places like Old Trafford, Ewood Park and White Hart Lane. Since then we’ve been to away grounds and gone all-out to win the games, whereas before we were perhaps a little bit more reserved in our approach. We targeted Villa and Leeds as games we needed to win.
We’re trying to pick up as many points as we can as early as we can. Out of the five games this month we were looking to take ten points, so we’re down on our target having only picked up six. The most positive thing is we know why it went wrong – we’ll now get down to some hard work and I’m sure we’ll bounce back.”