Claudio Ranieri is adamant Fulham will stay in the Premier League despite sitting five points off safety.
Ranieri, who took over from Slavisa Jokanovic in November, has overseen just two wins and three draws in 11 games so far in all competitions, including a shock FA Cup third-round defeat by Oldham at Craven Cottage.
Sitting seven points off 17th-place Newcastle, though with a game in hand over their relegation rivals, Fulham host Tottenham on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4pm, but Ranieri is remaining positive and believes they will survive.
He said “Of course I am positive – and I think at the end we survive. Of course it’s not easy, but at the end, we will survive.”
Asked if he expected an easier first few months, he said: “No, I expected a very tough season for Fulham. Because when you grow up and arrive at the Premier League, it’s important to realise the tempo, the intensity the quality of the players. I hope now that in the last matches that there are we can do something good for the team.
“I am happy with this team, these lads, because they train very well. Of course you need a bit of luck to win some matches. Last match [at Burnley] we lost the match without conceding a shot on target. It’s very, very bizarre, but we have to do something.”
Ranieri has attempted to instil some discipline to the Premier League’s leakiest defence since arriving in November, as well as utilising star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Since scoring twice in Ranieri’s first game in charge, a 4-2 win against Southampton, Mitrovic has scored just once, but the manager says balance in the team is just as important.
“I work a lot on how I want to exploit my players up front and of course I’d like more crosses for Mitrovic. In training sessions it is easier and it is more difficult in the match. Also to give some support in a defensive way, not just the back three or back four, but the whole team have to understand the movement.
“When they have the ball I expect something. But the balance in the team is very, very important and every match we concede a goal, and I have to find a solution.”
Asked what that solution is, Ranieri admitted Fulham may dip into the transfer market further in January, having already signed winger Ryan Babel.
“The solution is try to find some new players and to help the team,” Ranieri added. “I hope [Babel] can bring his experience and his qualities because he is an outstanding player. And also some goals, as we need players who can shoot at goal, he shoots very well from long distance. I expect this.
“Now if there will be some good opportunity [to make signings], my chairman is ready.”