Bruce urges Fayed to persevere with Hughes

Fulham 0 Sunderland 0
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The Independent Online

Steve Bruce made a plea on behalf of Mark Hughes, and managers in general, after Sunderland extended Fulham's winless run to 14 matches.

Hughes only arrived in the summer but owner Mohamed al-Fayed knows his club can't afford to be relegated. It is thought Fulham's debt to him is in excess of £100m and their cost base is unsustainable outside the top flight. Previously, Fayed has acted swiftly when their status was threatened.

But, said Bruce, axing Hughes now would be bad for Fulham, and for the game in general. "He has only been here six months. Look at the top clubs in the country, at Manchester United and Arsenal. Stability works. Then look at the ones that keep on sacking. It ends up with a football club in chaos."

Hughes was "confident I can turn it around", adding: "We just lack that bit of quality in the final third, but we're getting players back. There's a little bit of frustration [among the fans] but they understand we are missing key players, who were big players last year."

The big loss is Bobby Zamora. Fulham's last win was his last match, in September. He will not be back until late January at best.

In Asamoah Gyan, Bruce had the luxury of a £15m striker on the bench, and the Geordie emphasised the value of solid backing from a club's owner.

"I'm lucky. to have a really good job. The people who employ me let me manage. They're decent people who put their hands in their pockets."

Substitutes: Fulham A Johnson (Kamara, 46), E Johnson (Salcido, 72), Baird (Etuhu, 78). Unused Stockdale (gk), Kelly, Duff, Greening. Sunderland Al-Muhammadi (Ferdinand, 10), Gyan (Meyler, 53), Zenden (Welbeck, 78). Unused Gordon (gk), Angeleri, Da Silva, Malbranque. Booked: Sunderland Richardson.

Man of the match Mensah. Match rating 3/10. Possession Fulham 49% Sunderland 51%. Shots on target Fulham 9 Sunderland 1.

Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire). Att: 24,462.

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