Dickson Etuhu says Fulham should prevail in the west London derby this afternoon – but has warned that QPR are likely to be an entirely different proposition from the side easily dismantled at Craven Cottage earlier in the summer.
Inspired by an Andy Johnson hat-trick, Fulham thrashed QPR 6-0 back in October but Etuhu says Rangers will be motivated by the thought of avenging that heavy defeat as they go into the return fixture. Rangers will also be buoyed by the presence of former Fulham manager Mark Hughes, who took over from the sacked Neil Warnock last month, and Bobby Zamora, who left Fulham on transfer deadline day.
I fancy us to beat them again, to be honest. But it will be a much more difficult game this time. They will be a different side now because of Mark Hughes. He will keep them up, definitely. I have no doubt in my mind about that.
QPR have a few players who are good friends of mine. I played with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton at Manchester City. And I know Jay Bothroyd and Bobby Zamora well. Shaun’s on Blackberry messenger a lot. He’s a good friend.
Obviously the manager is there as well now. They are all good guys. They will get a lot of stick, but it will be in good humour. They will definitely be out for revenge after what happened at Craven Cottage. Losing 6-0 was quite embarrassing for them. But Andy Johnson was on fire at the time, scoring a hat-trick. It looked very easy, but we were just on our game.
The Nigerian midfielder is still surprised at the manner of Hughes’ abrupt departure last summer, which saw him leave Fulham claiming the club couldn’t match his ambition.
We were shocked and were all calling each other to find out if it was true. We had just finished the season in eighth place in the Premier League. Of course we were surprised he went to QPR after saying Fulham couldn’t match his ambitions, but he had his reasons.
We wish him all the best now. I know Mark and what his teams are like, always playing a high-pressure game. He has great belief in his players as well. You always felt you had a chance with him. But we have another great manager in Martin Jol.
Etuhu has struggled to get regular games under Jol – making just 16 appearances in the league under his new manager – but says he remains committed to staying at Fulham.
I have two-and-a-half years left on my contract and I still have a lot to offer. I’m going to fight for my spot.