Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is a long way from pressing the panic button over their failure to win away from home this season.
The Cottagers – who travel to West Brom on Saturday – have had several long, barren spells on their travels over the last few years but Hodgson insists that he is not worried yet.
When he took over from Lawrie Sanchez last season, Fulham were in a run of bad away form and in the relegation zone.
‘We’d had a terrible run but we put it right at the end of last season with these players,’ he said.
‘In my first 12 or 14 games we had yet another six or seven away defeats to add to the 20-odd that had gone before but we won at Reading, Manchester City and Portsmouth so they can’t use that excuse any more.
‘We’ve lost the three this season in all competitions but we won the final three last season.’ Hodgson also maintains that three setbacks in eight days – to Blackburn, Carling Cup opponents Burnley and then West Ham in a game which striker Andy Johnson was sent off – have not cast a cloud over Craven Cottage.
However, the absence of the suspended Johnson at The Hawthorns will be another problem to overcome. ‘We are saddened by that but in a long season you have to accept that you’re not always going to have your players available,’ said Hodgson.
‘We’ve got other players and it’s a chance for them to show what they can do,’
Hodgson admitted it will be a difficult game in the Black Country.
‘I think they’re good. They’ve had two good wins now and they’ve continued to play with the same style that got them so much praise when they won the Championship.
‘I would obviously have liked the last week, which was a bad, bad week for us, to have been better.
‘But I’d be more concerned if the team was really playing badly. If I was seeing a lot of faults in our play and not seeing any sort of cohesion and teamwork between the units, that would probably be bothering me more because then I would be wondering if we were going to be good enough to get the points we need to stay in this league.
‘In the matches we have lost we have still shown we are very competitive and up there with the teams we’re playing against so we just have to be philosophical about it and keep reminding ourselves we are not going to stay in the league – or win the league – in the first five or six games.
‘It is what happens through the 38 matches and where we are come April or May next year. There’s an awful long way to go and you have to beware of swallowing the bitter pill or the sugar-coated pill.
‘The problem is that sometimes defeats start messing with people’s heads and as a result the performances can be weakened.
‘But if our performances don’t drop below the level of the five league games so far then I think we will have a good season.’