Fulham boss Chris Coleman has demanded that his players banish the complacency which has crept into their game as they prepare for the “critical stage” of the season.
The Cottagers have a UEFA Cup spot within their grasp and would also progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup if they beat West Ham in tonight’s fifth-round replay at Upton Park.
But the club’s dip in form has meant that the outcome against their London rivals from Division One is no foregone conclusion, and Coleman wants his side to rediscover the form they showed earlier in the campaign.
“We are at a critical stage of the season,” Coleman said. “A little bit of complacency has set in and we need to get back to what we were doing when we were winning matches.
“We are not realistically going to get relegated from the Premiership. Liverpool and Newcastle are chasing the fourth Champions League place but we have got a great chance to finish in the top six, although the top eight is more realistic.
“We also want to get as far as we can in the cup but we won’t do that if we continue to perform the way we have been because we have been below par for the last two or three matches.”
Fulham, ninth in the Barclaycard Premiership, should prove too strong for West Ham tonight but Coleman is refusing to admit his side are favourites to progress to the last eight.
“We like to go into matches as the underdogs and we normally play better that way, pulling something out of the bag,” he said.
“And I believe we might be the underdogs against West Ham. If you look at their form and the fact they will be at home, then perhaps they are the favourites.”
Fulham will certainly need to improve on their dire 2-1 weekend defeat by Wolves if they are to progress in the competition.