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Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez insists last year’s struggle to avoid relegation was just a blip and promises much-improved results this season.
Sanchez took over from Chris Coleman in April and steered the struggling Londoners to safety by just one point.

The former Northern Ireland boss has signed seven players this summer and says Fulham could surprise people.

“I would expect us not to be in the same situation as we found ourselves last season,” Sanchez said.

“With the introduction of players we’ve had, we’ll be more competitive than last season, that’s for sure.”

Fulham have signed Aaron Hughes, Steven Davis, Chris Baird, David Healy, Diomansy Kamara, Paul Konchesky and Lee Cook in the off season.

I’d like to think we can surprise one or two people this season

Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez

And Sanchez, who was handed a £20m transfer chest by Fulham owner Mohammed Al Fayed, revealed he expected to sign “two or three more players” before the start of the season.

“We’ve had a lot of change in the summer and the fans are sitting there saying, ‘well, prove you’re good enough’,” said Sanchez.

“I’m not a seer, I can’t see what’s going to happen but all I can go on is past experience.

“I kept Wycombe in their division and had a great cup run when I was manager there. And I took over Northern Ireland when they were in their worst [ranked] position in world football and took them back to the mid 20s.

“Now my job is to do that again and I’d like to think we can surprise one or two people this season.”

Sanchez defended his signing of four Northern Ireland players – skipper Hughes, Baird, Healy and Davis – and said that all managers like to recruit players they know.

“They’ve been the cornerstone of what we’ve done at Northern Ireland for the last three years,” he said.

I’d like to give the fans a day out at a major cup final

Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez

“I can vouch for them. They know what the British game is all about and they’re good enough to play at Fulham. They’ll improve what we’ve got.

“But we’ve brought in other players and we’re giving everybody a chance at the Premier League.”

Sanchez added that he would be targeting a cup run alongside ensuring Premier League safety.

“We’re not going to win the Champions League, certainly not in the next three or four years, but we could get somewhere near a final,” he said.

“The fans obviously love the Premier League and that is obviously the mainstay, but I’d like to give the fans some day outs at major cup finals.

“If other people aren’t going to take it seriously, we certainly will.

“And over the course of my time in charge at Fulham I’d like to think we’ll be getting into Europe somehow, whether that be via the Intertoto, a cup final or our league position.”