Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, insists results must take priority over style as he bids to lift the club away from the danger zone at the foot of the Barclays Premier League.
Hodgson’s arrival as coach at Craven Cottage has sparked off much debate about the kind of football the club’s fans can expect to see under his leadership.
But Hodgson is adamant that even the best teams in the world sometimes have to resort to direct football to get the results they need.
“I’ll never forget (legendary former Holland coach) Rinus Michels talking at a Uefa conference,” he said. “He was being lauded for ‘Total Football’ and the first man to play this wonderful football.
“He made the following point: ‘I wanted to play football where my teams won. I wanted to play the best football to help them win. But if we were losing one goal to nil with 15 minutes left to play and the opponents were camping in their half, I was not averse to putting my big centre-forward on and crashing the ball up to them and playing the knock-down’.
“I think it’s a bit dangerous those things being said about a footballing philosophy at the moment. I think if we’re going to retain our Premier League status and get out of trouble we’ve got to play like a Premier League team.
“That’s all I can say. There will be days when we’re fighting and scrapping and I hope there will be days when we’re playing.”
Hodgson revealed that much of his initial work on the training ground since replacing sacked Lawrie Sanchez has revolved around getting the team to keep its shape during games.
He added: “Keeping your shape is having structure in your team and making certain that in all areas, both defensively and offensively, you have got enough structure to help you do the job.
“The thing about shape is when the board goes up before the game they are very easy to define and get. The problem is whilst you’re playing your shape can get lost. The question is how you regain it and balance out the team to make sure it is maintained – and that’s what it is all about.
“The training we’ve done on it is very much about that. When we’re attacking a certain area we’ve got the right number of players to help us attack in that area and then the right balance if the ball is lost to help us defend it if it goes to another area.
“I like to think the more work you do the players will get more comfortable with it. That’s an ongoing process and day-to-day work.
“Of course the good teams we admire, like Arsenal, are about passing play but that has come from a philosophy that has been going on for years. Players have been signed with a view to that philosophy and it’s been day-to-day work going on week after week and month after month.”