Fulham boss Chris Coleman today expressed his frustration at what he perceives to be the dubious recent media coverage endured by his two top players.
The Cottagers celebrated earlier this week when Edwin van der Sar followed in the footsteps of Luis Boa Morte by signing a contract extension, continuing the club’s magnificent start to the New Year.
But subsequent television interviews involving Fulham’s prized assets have taken some of the gloss off the good news and have left a furious Coleman seething at attempts to undermine his work at Craven Cottage.
He said: “It was blasted all over the station that Edwin said he wanted to go to Manchester United or Arsenal.
“Let’s get this straight – if a big club comes in for you like that, it’s going to turn your head. Edwin did a big 20-minute piece and it was all positive. He didn’t say Fulham was second best – all he said was he didn’t get a phone call about a transfer. It was a tiny part of a big interview.
“He’s extended his contract, he’s pledged his future and has been magnificent for us. But all the TV station wanted to put across in their interview is what he said about not getting a phone call from Manchester United or Arsenal.
“Boa also did an interview with the same people saying he wanted to play in Europe – he was only being honest because we all have dreams. But they made it all sound so negative.
“We’ve tied Edwin and Boa down to new contracts so I don’t know what we have to do as a club to prove they are staying. This episode is very disappointing because we’ve had such a good month.”
Boa Morte – who rejected interest from Newcastle to agree a three-and-a-half year contract extension – stated in his interview he felt it unlikely he would win any silverware while at Craven Cottage.
But Coleman refused to take the bleak assessment of Fulham’s inability to compete for silverware as an insult, instead choosing to outline what the club’s ambitions are each season.
He said: “There’s a possibility we won’t win any trophies but we don’t start the season looking to finish in the top six – it’s unrealistic for a club our size given the money we spend. If we did we’d have done incredibly well.
“Our main objective is to stay in the Premiership year-in year-out. We’ve managed to do that so far. A top 10 or eight finish or a good cup run is a bonus. Our crowds are around 20,000, which is one of the lowest in the league.
“I don’t know why people are saying we are going through a bad time because we don’t set out to win trophies. Give me £50million to spend and maybe we will.
“But our objective is to remain in the Premiership and then hope we do something in the cup.”
Coleman’s hopes of reaching the later stages of one of the knockout competitions rest with the FA Cup, which resumes against in-form Coca-Cola Championship outfit Derby tomorrow.
The competition has been kind to Fulham in recent times, yielding quarter and semi-final finishes, and with players coming back from injury there is no reason why they should not enjoy similar success this term.
Claus Jensen, Alain Goma and Ian Pearce are back in the reckoning for the trip to Derby after long-term injury problems but suspended trio Papa Bouba Diop, Zesh Rehman and Carlos Bocanegra miss out.