Fulham 1 Swansea 2
Martin Jol insisted Fulham did not need to spend their way out of trouble after watching them crash to another defeat that sucked them ever closer to the Barclays Premier League drop zone.
Saturday’s loss to Swansea extended the Cottagers’ miserable run to one win in 12 and left them just four points above the bottom three. Fulham are beginning to look in dire need of reinforcements, but while manager Jol will try to dip into the transfer market when the window reopens tomorrow, he was confident the return of injured players would be the real catalyst for a revival.
Bryan Ruiz certainly showed how much the Cottagers had missed him with a Man of the Match performance in his first start for six weeks. And Jol was hoping the imminent recovery of Mahamadou Diarra, Mladen Petric and Damien Duff would have the same effect.
“If players come back from injury, I think that will freshen up the squad as well,” said the Dutchman, who admitted the trio were unlikely to return for tomorrow’s New Year’s Day trip to West Brom.
“If we can do something in the market, we will try to that. But it’s not easy.
“You know as well as I do that clubs will wait and wait until you have to pay the maximum price and we will not do that.”
Jol said of former Real Madrid midfielder Diarra, who has been plagued by injury this season: “I think he needs another four or five days.
“Damien Duff is the same. Hopefully, he could play against West Brom, but I’m not certain. And Petric is the same. He will be back probably next week.”
Swansea proved they could not only win without 14-goal top scorer Michu but could do so resting six other players.
Manager Michael Laudrup revealed he did so not just because of the festive fixture schedule, but also because his side will play at least seven times in January.
“Again, we play Sunday, [January] 6 against Arsenal, on Wednesday against Chelsea and on Saturday against Everton away. What a three games in six days we have there. It continues on until mid-February and then it slows down again.”
One player to benefit both from Michu’s ankle injury, which could also keep him out tomorrow, is Danny Graham. Last season’s top scorer marked his recall with his first league goal for more than four months thanks to a spill by Fulham keeper David Stockdale.
He was at fault for the second too when he cleared the ball straight against Brede Hangeland and it rebounded for Pablo Hernández to square for De Guzman to sidefoot home.
Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel showed Stockdale the way to do it three minutes later with a decent stop from Ruiz’s half-volley but he was beaten a minute later in controversial fashion. Berbatov headed Kerim Frei’s cross against the bar and his follow-up was blocked straight to Ruiz, whose point-blank finish was going in but hit Riether on the way. Tremmel’s appeals fell on deaf ears.
FULHAM: D Stockdale, A Hughes, S Riether, B Hangeland, M Briggs, S Sidwell, K Frei (P Senderos, 84), G Karagounis, A Dejagah (H Rodallega, 76), B Ruiz, D Berbatov.
SWANSEA CITY: G Tremmel, G Monk, A Rangel, A Williams, D Tiendalli, N Dyer, P Hernández (B Davies, 67), K Agustien (Leon Britton, 83), J De Guzmán, W Routledge (K Sung-Yueng, 45), D Graham.
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