Fulham manager Mark Hughes is at a loss to explain Fulham’s costly inability to turn draws into wins this season.
Arsenal have lost the same amount of Premier League games – five – as the Cottagers but while they lie just two points behind leaders Manchester United, Hughes’ men are outside the drop zone on goal difference alone.
Both sides are therefore proof positive of the importance of taking maximum points, with Fulham having done so only twice in 17 matches. Their remaining 10 games have all been draws, but many of these results have left Hughes scratching his head.
“I don’t know where it’s come from,” said the former Manchester City and Blackburn boss. “It’s never happened to me in my career before and it’s not as if we’re setting up negatively or trying to get people behind the ball and taking what we can out of games. We’ve tried to be positive in every game we’ve played and I think that is too our credit. I think we’ve improved in that respect.”
Fulham’s problems stem from their lack of firepower as a result of injuries to key forwards.
Hughes said: “I think once we get that cutting edge and threat at the top end, which we will in the new year, then a lot of the good things we are doing will still be in place. It’s been frustrating because we have not converted winning positions into winning performances but we’ll get there.”
Despite bemoaning all the draws, Hughes would take just that result on Saturday when his side travel to Liverpool. They have never won at Anfield, although they will be facing a Reds side who have proved inconsistent in the extreme in 2010. That has seen manager Roy Hodgson, who quit Craven Cottage for Liverpool in the summer, come under real pressure.
Hughes said: “I would suggest it’s the media saying he’s under pressure but I think he’s done well. When you read between the lines from what Roy says, he feels he has the support of everyone at Liverpool and, as a manager, that is what you want to know and feel comfortable with.
“He’s frustrated because, the way Roy works, he takes time for his ideas to bed in as it does with my own ideas. You need that period of transition, I would suggest, but sometimes it is not always available for every manager. I think that when sense prevails, you give people time and they go about their business and then success follows on.”