Fulham v Tottenham: Rene Meulensteen targets 'work rate and discipline' in bid to escape relegation battle

The Dutchman takes charge of his first match following the departure of Martin Jol

New Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen knows hard work is the only way his players are going to turn their season around.

Dutchman Meulensteen takes charge of the side for the first time against Tottenham on Wednesday night after stepping into the Craven Cottage hot-seat after Martin Jol was saked in the wake of a 3-0 defeat at West Ham, a sixth consecutive defeat leaving them 18th in the Barclays Premier League.

Meulensteen, 49, only arrived at the west London club last month to work under Jol, whom he had known for many years, but firmly believes there must be a positive mental attitude to the challenges ahead.

"Fulham have had too many poor results and we must now create a platform to get away from our position," he said.

"We need to make sure the players take responsibility, with work-rate and their discipline."

Right-back Sascha Riether will return from a three-match suspension for the clash with Spurs after he was handed a retrsopective ban for stamping on Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj was not seen by the match officials at the time, but caught on video.

Defender Brede Hangeland could be back after a sciatic nerve problem, while striker Dimitar Berbatov is also expected to be fit following illness.

Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes feels the players must stay positive for the challenges ahead.

"We have just got to keep going and believing in ourselves. When you are in the middle of a bad run the last thing you want to do is let your head drop, feel sorry for yourself and make excuses," he said.

"We just have to all pull together and try and get through this busy period coming up when there are a lot of games and you can pick up a lot of points quickly.

"We have to try and be positive and take the things we are doing on the training pitch into games."

Fulham now have two successive home matches, with Aston Villa the visitors on Sunday, which Hughes feels can help the Cottagers turn the corner.

"If we can take six points from the next two games, the table would look completely different," the centre-back added.

"That is what we're aiming for.

"We will look at the West Ham game and figure out where we went wrong, and then prepare for Spurs and Villa."

Meulensteen had two spells on Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom staff at Manchester United, but his experience as head coach are limited, with just 17 days in charge at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala while previous management roles came at Brondby and in Qatar with Al-Gharafa and Al-Sadd.

The new Cottagers boss has moved quickly to bring in his own men behind the scenes in a reshuffle following Jol's two-and-a-half years at the club.

Former Manchester United academy coach Jonathan Hill has come in, while Kit Symons, the current development team manager, will also be assisting with first-team training.

Meanwhile, Fulham confirmed Jol's brother Cornelis, who worked as football operations manager, plus coaches Michael Lindeman and Billy McKinlay have also left Craven Cottage.

PA

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