Defender Denis Odoi feels Fulham’s confidence is returning after seven points from a possible nine in a week lifted the Whites into the top half of the Championship table.
The versatile Belgian, who followed up two assured displays in his preferred left-back role with another strong performance at centre half as he deputised for the injured Tim Ream, believes that Saturday’s narrow win over a competitive Millwall side has helped boost morale around the Fulham squad as they look ahead to this weekend’s west London derby against Brentford. After the final whistle on Saturday, he told FulhamFC TV:
I think if we had dropped a lot of points this week it would have been hard for us to look up there [towards the top six]. Obviously, we need to take it step by step. We cannot get ahead of ourselves. You also feel something changing within the group, but I told everybody before the game that this is an important game because if we lose today, the win from Tuesday was all for nothing. Now we can maybe look up there, but next week is another game, we have a few competitors and I think we should be able to get three points.
Everybody was obviously a bit down after the losses we had before the international break. Everyone was disappointed about the result, about the way things were going and now with seven points out of nine, it’s good for the morale.
Odoi was delighted with the much-needed three points, secured via Ollie Norwood’s first half spot-kick, and a precious clean sheet at Craven Cottage, which was Fulham’s first in the league at home since January.
It’s always good to get a win at the Cottage – especially this season it’s been hard for us to get a win at the Cottage. We’re obviously happy with the three points, but we’re a bit disappointed about the second half, but it’s good to get two wins in a row.
We had a clean sheet against Leeds, but at the Cottage it had been a long time. Obviously, we play offensive football and the downside from that is that we get a lot of goals against [us]. Obviously we’re happy with the nil today and we need to build on that.
The popular 29 year-old is happy to be considered a versatile member of the Fulham squad, having made his name as a left back when he broke through to the first team at Oud-Herverlee Leuven, and was pleased to turn in a strong display at the heart of the defence – similar to his performances at Reading and Leeds – after Ream was ruled out with a problem picked up at Sheffield United.
Also in Belgium, that’s how they know me. It doesn’t really matter for me – obviously I have my favourite positions – I would say left back – but I just try to do my best and if it is centre back, left back or right back then that’s the way it is. Most of my career – I would say 65% I’ve played as a left back – so I’m most used to play as a left back. Obviously when I was younger I played as right full back but when I came into the first team at the highest level, I started playing left back and I played most of my games at left back so that’s why I prefer it.
Odoi was pleased that Fulham managed to resist Millwall’s more direct approach in the second half, even if Jokanovic’s men were disappointed that they couldn’t dominate possession as much as they did before the break.
We knew they were going to play that way. They obviously have big guys up front and that’s the way they play but [in the] first half we had possession and we managed to keep the ball and play a little bit of football. In the second half, I think we forgot to do that and we had difficulty playing football and then they had the ball and obviously they were going to keep hitting long balls.