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Antti Niemi admits he was surprised that Fulham sacked Chris Coleman – and believes the players should take the blame for the club’s poor league position.

The Fulham hierarchy acted after a 3-1 defeat by Manchester City on Easter Monday left the Whites just four points above the relegation zone, with Sheffield United having a game in hand. Coleman has been replaced by Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez but Niemi hopes Coleman’s success with the club is not forgotten.

The Finnish keeper told the Sun: “Our recent run of bad results wasn’t down to him. It is us players who have to look at ourselves and say we haven’t been good enough of late. I know it has been a struggle in recent weeks for us. But I never thought I’d see a time where Chris Coleman was sacked.

“He has been nothing short of magnificent as boss of this club and I hope people will remember him for all the good things he has done for us. Cookie worked wonders for Fulham and, considering the size of this club, when you judge him you have to say he was fantastic over a long period. I reckon he will have no problems finding a new team to manage, if that’s what he wants.”

Niemi is still confident that Fulham can beat the drop.

“I don’t think we are doomed at all. We still have a cushion and feel confident of getting ourselves safe. Now we must all try and re-focus for Lawrie Sanchez. We have to take what he says on board and get those final few points we need to stay up as soon as we can.”