Lawrie Sanchez insists his appointment delivered a crucial wake-up call to Fulham’s players as they had failed to grasp the club’s precarious position.
The Cottagers sit just three points above the Barclays Premiership relegation zone and face a tricky run-in with fixtures against Blackburn, Arsenal, Liverpool and Middlesbrough to come.
Former boss Chris Coleman was axed last week in response to the slump and Sanchez, who has taken over on a temporary basis, believes the change issued a vital reality check.
The Northern Ireland manager claims Fulham’s perilous situation had “crept up” on the squad, many of whom had failed to match the board’s concern at the club’s predicament.
“The players, not all of them but as a group, didn’t think they were in a situation in terms of points or position,” he said.
“They probably looked at the table and thought they’d be all right.
“What happened with regard to the change of manager was they suddenly thought, let’s look where we are in the table and see what games are left.
“If the results had gone against us over the weekend, we could be sat in the bottom three today.
“That was a wake-up call for the players and they showed that tentativeness last weekend against Reading – we realised we were in something we didn’t think we were in.
“I wouldn’t call it complacency. The players just thought points will come.
“Perhaps they didn’t think the people upstairs were more worried than them. The situation probably crept up on them, like it has for everyone.
“But you can’t rely on the feeling that everything will be all right because I can guarantee it won’t be all right if we stay on 35 points.
“If it was all right I wouldn’t be here. We could be in the bottom three this weekend and then it would be out of our hands.
“The players and everyone around the club know the situation now and any emotion over the changes has gone.”
Fulham face Blackburn at Craven Cottage on Saturday with Sanchez claiming his side’s style will be “winning football”.
Sanchez was a member of the Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ and while he admits he will not be resorting to the long-ball tactics adopted by the Dons, he does not care if he fails to make any new friends.
“I was part of the Crazy Gang but as an observer more than an instigator. I was self-contained and that allows me to a manager,” he said.
“I don’t need to be loved by my players or other people. I’ve proved I can make players better. It does take a certain personality to be manager.
“Some need to be liked. I’m not like that. If they like me great, if they don’t then as long as I’m doing the job that’s all that matters.”
Sanchez is on a short-term contract which he hopes will be renewed in the summer, but he revealed he is still responsible for all planning at the club.
“Things have been running past me and I am dealing with them as if I was here next season because any manager who comes in would want them put in place,” he said.
“For recruitment, players have been listed and categorised because whoever is manager here will need certain type of players. That is being done.
“Things haven’t stood still because I’m here temporarily. I’m putting in place things that will benefit the next manager, whether or not it’s me.”