Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has insisted he retains the full support of the Fulham dressing room, despite Jimmy Bullard’s angry reaction to being substituted in a desperate draw at Derby.
Bullard, Fulham’s best player who early in the second half at Pride Park smashed one of his trademark free-kicks against the Derby crossbar, was seen to complain behind Hodgson’s back when he was replaced in the 81st minute by Danny Murphy.
At that stage Fulham had just conceded an equaliser from Emanuel Villa, the busy Argentine player’s second goal of the game, and the subsequent 2-2 result leaves the London side six points adrift of the safety zone with only six fixtures to fulfil.
Hodgson offered no apologies for bringing off fan’s favourite Bullard, saying: “I make the decisions. If the players are unhappy with them then that is up to them.”
Hodgson claimed he did not see Bullard’s response to being substituted because he was concentrating on the game. And he believes there is no subsequent disquiet within the Fulham camp.
He said: “I’ve been positively surprised, considering the situation and considering the position we find ourselves in, that people are as upbeat and as determined and as confident and have as much belief in themselves as they have.”
Hodgson can afford to be nothing but upbeat. Yet the truth about Saturday’s game was that Fulham should have beaten easily the worst team in the League, whose demotion to the Championship was confirmed at the final whistle.
Diomansy Kamara had justified his recall to Fulham’s attack by equalising Villa’s first goal with a header, then Hameur Bouazza looked to have secured his side’s first League away win in 18 months when his snap shot was deflected in by a Derby defender Dean Leacock.
Within two minutes, however, Villa had equalised and Hodgson admitted it was “a cardinal sin” for his players to switch off in a moment of elation.
Fulham now face a crunch clash at home to Sunderland on Saturday with Hodgson stressing: “We don’t accept relegation. I’m not prepared to give up.”