Rene Meulensteen is taking nothing for granted as he prepares Fulham for their second tricky away trip over the festive period at Hull City tomorrow.
The Whites head to the KC Stadium in good heart having snatched a late victory at Norwich courtesy of a stunning strike from captain Scott Parker and will look to build on the momentum generated by that victory at Carrow Road and climb out of the bottom three with another win. Hull have made an excellent start upon their return to the top flight and Meulensteen was full of praise for their manager – and former Manchester United defender – Steve Bruce.
I like Steve as a person and I know him really well. He transfers his charisma onto the pitch and into the players, and you can see that. He’s got them playing and they had an excellent result against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, which was massive. He’s not too afraid to experiment at times; sometimes he has three at the back and sometimes it’s a straight 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1. You always know with Steve’s teams that they’re generally well organised, they have a good energy about them and he gives them the freedom to play as well.
He’s done well at all the clubs where he’s been. Obviously one of the things when you get in and you get your feet under the table and you know what the Premier League is about, it doesn’t really faze you anymore. He’s seen it and he’s done it at various clubs with so many players. Plus he’s played in it himself which helps.
Like Bruce, Meulensteen cites the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as one of the major influences on his managerial style.
Any manager that has worked or played under Sir Alex will have remembered things that they will use, and I’m sure Steve isn’t any different. One of the most important things is that Sir Alex always wanted teams to play with a lot of endeavour, with a lot of speed and penetration. And obviously you have to look at the quality at your disposal, but the intentions are there [at Hull] and I think that game against Liverpool that Hull won 3-1 summed it up.
Meulensteen has enjoyed his first month as a manager in English football having picked up two wins as Fulham battle against relegation from the top flight and is still taken by the unpredictable nature of the Premier League.
I think we can guarantee that this is going to be one of the most exciting and interesting Premier Leagues for a long time, at the top and at the bottom. Every team across the table is involved in something.
It’s going to be very tight up there, I think, and there are a lot of people who think they’re fairly safe and might suddenly tumble into the bottom three. We’ve been in this position too long already – you don’t want to get used to it, but we know what we have to do. We have to go up; we’ve got a clear focus and a clear way where we want to go.