Fulham stress Al Fayed support for Coleman

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The Independent Football

The mounting pressure on the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, was alleviated somewhat last night after a spokesman for Mohamed Al Fayed dismissed as "scurrilous" reports that the Premiership club's owner was close to sacking the 35-year-old.

"Chris Coleman remains the manager of Fulham and has the full support of Mohamed [Al] Fayed and will continue to have the chairman's support," the spokes-man said. That was in response to speculation that if Fulham failed to gain points from their next two League fixtures - at home to Chelsea and away to Aston Villa - Coleman would be dismissed.

His position had come into question because, despite Fulham's wonderful home form, they have yet to win an away game this season and are only eight points above third-from-bottom Birmingham City. The rumours increased following the departure last week of two Fulham directors, Lees Hoos, the football business director, and Andy Ambler, the business operations director. Both were regarded as allies of Coleman.

Fayed sanctioned the acquisition of five players during the January transfer window but since then Fulham have lost five out of six Premiership matches, including Wednesday's 5-1 defeat at Liverpool, and failed to live up to Coleman's claim that with such investment they could reach the top 10.

It is believed that Coleman has also also disagreed with the board over the role of his assistant, Steve Kean, but has insisted that he will resign rather than lose his right-hand man. Both are believed to be on one-year rolling contracts.

One reason why the management structure is under scrutiny is, it is thought, because Fayed is considering making substantial investment this summer and wants to make sure the money is spent wisely and the club has sufficiently experienced people in charge.

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