Fulham manager Chris Coleman has challenged his players to rediscover the fighting spirit which served them so well last season in time for Monday’s Barclays Premiership showdown at Portsmouth.
Coleman was smarting after Wednesday’s tame 2-0 surrender to Middlesbrough which saw the Cottagers comprehensively outplayed in the second half by a more determined team.
Battling performances against the odds were Fulham’s trademark last term but Coleman is alarmed after witnessing his players’ lack of backbone against Steve McClaren’s men.
“We have progressed but not that much. We’ve still got to show the same commitment and desire as we did last season,” he said.
“Normally my lads will always have a go. Sometimes we’ll have a go, play well and lose because of the quality of the opposition.
“But rarely do we put up a performance like we did against Boro for 90 minutes. We looked lacklustre and looked like we’d run out of ideas.
“We’ve got to start planning for Portsmouth and I’ll be surprised if the performance next Monday is similar to that one. I’ll be very disappointed if it is.
“We’ve still got a long way to go and I’m sure at some point this season I’ll be left to reflect on another bad performance thinking it’s the end of the world.”
Fulham do not have a match for 12 days after the trip to Fratton Park because of England’s World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Poland – so Coleman is demanding a positive performance against Pompey.
“It’s another tough game coming up against Portsmouth. And then we’ve got a 10-day break,” he added.
“It would be disappointing to go down there and put in a another bad performance because then we’ve got a long time before we can put it right.”
Fulham did not pick up any fresh injuries during the defeat by Middlesbrough but Coleman is likely to ring the changes with Luis Boa Morte – a substitute on Wednesday – sure to start.