Slavisa Jokanovic hailed his Fulham side’s battling qualities after watching what he described as ‘a great battle’ in an entertaining draw at Ashton Gate this evening, although the Serbian suggested that Bristol City ‘bordered on the limit’ of legality with their physical tactics.
The Fulham head coach compared periods of a robust encounter to ‘a rugby game,’ but insisted he had to be happy with a point as the Whites extended their unbeaten run to eleven games. Jokanovic told his post-match press conference:
We faced a different kind of football game, it was a great battle. They were really solid, strong, bordering on the limit. In my opinion it was sometimes over the border of the limit but that was not the opinion of the referee. I must respect this. Sometimes I was a little bit confused about the rules, what is a foul and what is not.
In the end I cannot complain, all credit to Bristol City, they play a different way to us, and both teams were close to winning three points; us with our weapons, them with their little bit different weapons. In some moments it was like a kind of rugby game; so many pushes, so many situations where I was a little bit confused about what the limits were in this battle, and what is over the limit.
The Fulham boss eluded to Manchester United’s EFL Cup quarter final defeat earlier this season in highlighting that Fulham weren’t the only team to struggle to find too much space against Lee Johnson’s well-drilled defence.
We must be satisfied with this point. We didn’t find enough space, like an important Premier League team [Manchester United] didn’t find in this stadium. We always come to try and win three points, we didn’t do it today but there are many games ahead of us and we must be ready for the next challenge.
Jokanovic was far from downcast, though, pinpointing the confidence that his side will take from extending their excellent start to 2018 – and insisting there were still plenty of points to play for.
We have good momentum. Our unbeaten run is now 11 games and we need to be confident and we need to trust in ourselves and try and play our style. We tried today, we weren’t successful like we were in some games in the past, but we showed personality to try and follow our style, try and move the ball, but it wasn’t easy for us.
The Serbian had further words of praise for his compatriot Aleksandar Mitrovic, who opened his Fulham account with a clinically taken goal early in the contest during another encouraging display.
Of course it was good for Alexander to score his first goal. We trust in him, we believe he is the player we need in our squad. He showed not only tonight but also against Villa at the weekend that he is a quality player, and he is different to what I had in my squad.
Players need time to be on the pitch and they have to be given an opportunity – he will have more of those with us and we expect he can still improve.