Zesh Rehman has revealed how a “back to basics” approach in defence has been the catalyst for Fulham’s recent revival.

The Cottagers went into the new year with one of the worst defensive records in the Barclays Premiership and sliding towards the relegation zone.

But Saturday’s 2-1 win at Birmingham means they are still unbeaten in 2005 with Rehman and co keeping a tight rein on the potent strike force of Emile Heskey and Clinton Morrison.

The Birmingham-born defender explained: “The difference has been a back to basics approach – and getting back to hard work.

“Obviously we had a few disappointing results before Christmas but we’ve stuck together and we’ve turned the corner.

“The manager wanted us to do the simple things well and keep clean sheets. Do the basic things right was his message.

“We have tightened up at the back. We are working more as a unit now and communicating more and we want to build on that in the forthcoming games.”

Coleman admitted: “We have worked hard with our defence. They’re young and they do make mistakes. We’ve worked hard and tried to simplify things for them.

“We’ve always tried to play from the back but I’ve said just lately ‘clear your lines and do nothing fancy’. I’ve told them ‘play in the opponents’ half’ and we are playing the percentage game.

“We have had some tricky games – Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Birmingham – and we’ve gone on a great run at the right time.

“At this stage of the season it makes a massive difference for a team that goes four or five games unbeaten or puts together two or three wins.”

Coleman added: “It is all about confidence because we’ve got the same players now that we had a month ago when things weren’t going well.

“We’re winning and had a little bit of luck. West Brom were the better side against us last week and we won. At other times we haven’t had so much luck.

“Once you start winning games, and go on a little unbeaten run, it gives the players more confidence.”