Fulham manager Martin Jol feels Fulham were “bullied” by Stoke in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat – but insists he admires the Potters’ playing style.
The Staffordshire outfit have long been associated with a direct, physical approach in matches and it was something Jol thought his men struggled to deal with in an opening period during which they fell behind to Charlie Adam’s 26th-minute strike.
The manager said he had spoken to his players beforehand about Stoke’s capacity to “bully” opponents, but stressed he was not about to criticise the home side’s tactics.
Asked if he felt Fulham had allowed themselves to be bullied in the first half, Jol said: “Yes.
“We knew that and we said it before the game – they try to bully teams and they bullied us.
“You have to get them on the back foot and then play your football in their half.
“Then they will probably not be as good as they looked – but we couldn’t do that in the first half.
“In the second half we did, but we needed a lot of forward players to try to create that – with Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric, Ashkan Dejagah and (substitutes) Hugo Rodallega and Damien Duff. But it was disappointing that we still couldn’t score.
“You have to try to build up, and it is possible, but you need self-belief, you need quality and you must not let Stoke force themselves on you.
“That is what they did in the first half, but possibly they could not in the second half.
“Even Charlie Adam looked bigger than last year when I saw him before (when he was a Liverpool player)! It is not easy to defend against Stoke.”
Jol was keen to emphasise he was not suggesting foul play on Stoke’s part and even said he admired their style, although he did appear to be flagging up a certain irony when he claimed the Potters had been complaining about the conduct of Cottagers striker Berbatov.
“They (Stoke) do play within the rules,” Jol said.
“The only thing is that they moan about our fouls and I know my team – we never foul.
“They were talking almost as if Berbatov was a ‘clogger’, but he is probably one of the most elegant players in England. So that was quite strange.
“I admire Stoke for their style, because I always admire teams that have a style.
“It is not my style, but it is a style and they are doing well with it.
“So you have to stand up, hold firm against it, come up with something and if you have the ball, show your quality.
“We did that in the second half, but not the first half.”