A month ago, successive home games against Newcastle and Tottenham in the space of a week would have been a gift from the fixture gods. At this juncture, Fulham are not so sure. Suddenly they are playing host to two teams who in the past fortnight have won five and drawn one of six games between them and will walk into Craven Cottage with chests puffed out and heads held high.
"How can the same players be so different?" asked Fulham's former Spurs midfielder Simon Davies on Friday, before answering his own question: "The confidence you get from a win is massive, and the players who were struggling before look like the players they were when the club signed them."
The bonus for Fulham is that both games – against Newcastle this afternoon and Spurs on Saturday – are at home, where they have harvested 10 of their 11 points to date. Davies blames an opening-day reverse for the malaise. "At Hull we started really well and could have been three up, and if we'd got that early win the pressure comes off. We didn't and we've struggled since. But we beat Arsenal at home and feel a lot more confident [there]."
Last season Fulham all but left it too late. It was April before they won on their travels, at Reading, and when they went in at half-time 2-0 down to Manchester City in the following away game, Davies says the players were almost resigned to relegation. "We thought that was it, the atmosphere was very low. In a funny way, the pressure was off. We went and won [3-2] and from then on had momentum."
It took a Danny Murphy goal in the last 15 minutes of the season to win a second successive relegation fight. Fulham's manager, Roy Hodgson, says they can avoid a third one, but without any away points it won't happen.Reuse content