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Chris Coleman appreciated why Fulham fans booed him off and called for his dismissal after the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City left the Cottagers just four points clear of the Barclays Premiership relegation zone.

Goals from Joey Barton, DaMarcus Beasley and Darius Vassell did the damage as City all but ensured their own top-flight status for next season, with Carlos Bocanegra scoring what proved to be a consolation for the Londoners.

Coleman insisted he would not ‘put the boot in’ to his players even though he warned: ‘With just five games to go we are certainly not safe yet and it is no good us feeling sorry for ourselves.

‘I don’t think I have seen the players like this before. They are devastated, gutted. They are only human and so are the supporters. They haven’t seen us win here since Newcastle (February 3) and they are all frustrated.

‘But we need two more wins to be safe and from now on in we cannot afford to come off the pitch without getting a result.

‘When you are in a dogfight you have to fight like dogs. If it is a gunfight you can’t afford to go in with just a knife.

‘It is only results that are important now and it doesn’t matter how we get them. I will take being booed for being boring or whatever but we know we have good players. Some of them were missing today and now they have all got to become scrappers as well.

‘It was the second City goal that killed us. We are used to being 1-0 down because we’ve been in that position many times this season but every time we attacked we were faced with a big blue wall of defenders.

‘You could see the loss of belief in the players’ faces. It is written all over us but now we’ve got to believe we can stay in the Premiership this season. We’ve got to get the points we need and the players know full well the position we are in.

‘They were edgy and nervous but we need somebody to step forward and come up with something to get us a result. We can’t just moan about bad luck. Every team which has struggled has had their bad luck and it is up to us to get over it.’

Fulham still have to play Reading, Blackburn, Arsenal, Liverpool and Middlesbrough before the end of the season.