Lawrie Sanchez has welcomed Fulham’s hazardous run-in as it provides an opportunity to mastermind the type of shock victory that has sealed his reputation as a miracle-worker.
Triumphs over Spain, Sweden and England have lit up Sanchez’s three-year spell as Northern Ireland coach and earned him hero status in the province.
Against all odds the international minnows top Group F in Euro 2008 qualifying and Fulham caretaker boss Sanchez is confident he can translate his magical touch to the Barclays Premiership.
The Cottagers are three points clear of relegation but with fixtures away at Arsenal and Middlesbrough and at home to Liverpool to come, they could easily be sucked into the bottom three.
Sunday’s clash with Arsenal is next up for Sanchez and the 47-year-old is relishing the chance to add Arsene Wenger’s side to his collection of high-profile victims.
“I want a team that is hopefully playing winning football. We need a win because three draws won’t be enough,” he said,
“People have written off the Arsenal and Liverpool games as no pointers, but I see them as matches we can get points from. That’s the way I manage.
“I love the big games because it’s great when you get something people don’t expect. People expected us to beat Blackburn, so there was more pressure on us for that match.
“There are points to be had from every fixture between now and the end of the season.
“The sooner we get those points up the better, regardless of the way we play. We’ll do some basic things that hopefully will help us to score goals.”
Sanchez’s arrival has yet to provoke the response the board will have been seeking when they axed former manager Chris Coleman a fortnight ago.
Defeat to Reading and a point from Saturday’s clash with Blackburn at Craven Cottage has done nothing to improve Fulham’s chances of escaping relegation.
But Sanchez has enjoyed his exposure to top-flight management and is desperate to make his appointment permanent.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time at Fulham. It has been enjoyable, interesting and frustrating,” he said.
“This is the world’s top league, certainly in terms of finance, and you want to test yourself against the best.
“I’ve done that at an international level and come off okay but longer term I’d like to test myself every week against the best domestically.”
But while Sanchez hopes his managerial skills will lead Fulham to safety, he insists their fate does not rest on his shoulders alone.
“We talk to the players every day and try to read their body language to see how they are feeling. We make sure they have everything they need,” he said.
“But ultimately the players have to be responsible for knowing their job and doing their job.
“I’ve said to the players don’t be disappointed if you’re not in the team and don’t let any disappointment affect the team.
“Our squad is small enough that we will need every one of our players between now and the end of the season.
“I don’t want players bringing any disappointment on to the pitch.”