Fulham 3 Reading 1: Coppell admits grind of defeat gets him down

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The Independent Football

Steve Coppell rarely opens up to the media, let alone gets embroiled any semblance of controversy. So when the Reading manager, in a moment of vulnerability, says how much he loathes the art of management, eyebrows are raised.

Coppell, as straightforward and honest as they come, is universally admired for the way he has turned his team into an established Premier League outfit. But after Reading's fifth straight away defeat at the weekend, he provided a rare insight into his job.

Asked whether he was enjoying it, Coppell replied: "No, never really. I do it because I've got bills to pay. I don't want any stupid headlines, but I don't enjoy the week-to-week process of management. At the end of the season, when I'm sitting on a beach with a beer in my hand and thinking I've done well, that's when I'm happy. Would I miss management? There are a lot of other things to do out there."

He did not stop there, as he tried to put his position into perspective. "Today was a game of football, that's all. It means a lot to us and I'll be in Monday morning determined to work hard, but 1.2 billion people in India couldn't give a ... what happens to Reading."

When Coppell does get into work today, how will he turn around Reading's worrying away form? "I haven't got a clue. But what I won't do is change the way we prepare, home or away. Maybe I should, but we play exactly the same way."

Coppell dismisses the notion that unless they start picking up points on the road, Reading could find themselves in a relegation scrap. He also refutes the suggestion that they are going downhill. "For us to be where we are, we are making history. There are three mini-leagues in this division and we are striving to be top of the third one. It's a power league and it's almost defined before anyone has kicked a ball. You know where most teams are going to finish, with one or two exceptions. Last season we were one of those exceptions, we punched above our weight."

Fulham have one of the worst records in the Premier League for letting a lead slip and did the same again on Saturday when Kevin Doyle lost his marker to cancel out a thunderbolt from Simon Davies. Antti Niemi was the busier keeper, but for once Fulham went on to win, courtesy of Clint Dempsey and a stoppage-time effort from substitute David Healy.

Despite the late sending-off of 20-year-old Elliot Omozusi, the Portsmouth manager, Lawrie Sanchez, was delighted."Everybody knew how important this game was. We hadn't been hanging on for 90 minutes," Sanchez said. "We are a new team. I've rebuilt a club in the course of a summer, 15 players out and 12 in."

Goals: Davies (18) 1-0; Doyle (54) 1-1; Dempsey (72) 2-1, Healy (90) 3-1.

Fulham (4-4-2): Niemi; Stefanovic, Omozusi, Ashton, Hughes; Davies, Murphy, Davis, Bouazza (Kuqi, 60); Dempsey, Kamara (Healy, 67). Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Seol, Leijer.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty (Long, 87), Duberry, Sonko, Shorey; Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Lita (Convey, 76); Kitson, Doyle. Substitutes not used: Federici (gk), Ingimarsson, Rosenior.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Booked: Fulham Stefanovic, Omozusi, Healy.

Sent off: Omozusi (90).

Man of the match: Davies.

Attendance: 22,086.