Hodgson blasts 'ingratitude' of fans

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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson has slammed Fulham fans who have criticised club owner Mohamed Al Fayed for not splashing the cash in pursuit of silverware.

The Cottagers have established themselves as a solid Premier League side over the last few seasons and are currently 10th in the table.

They have also made it through to the knockout stages of the Europa League and take on Notts County in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

While the majority of the club's fans are thankful for the progress made under Al Fayed, the owner of retail giant Harrods who took over Fulham in 1997 when they were at the wrong end of the league pyramid, others believe it is the time to push on and try to compete with the Premier League's big guns.

Hodgson cited League Two side County, who were bought by Ray Trew for £1 yesterday with debts of more than £1.5million and risk being wound up, and Portsmouth as examples of the dangers of crass overspending.

And he believes Fulham supporters need to get a sense of perspective.

"We were lucky - we had a sugar daddy, a man who was prepared to come in and put money into the club and help us," he said.

"But in recent years, certainly while I've been here, we've tried to run the club sensibly as a business.

"We are greatly indebted to Mohamed Al Fayed for all the money he has put in and the support he has given us but occasionally now you see letters from fans saying he should invest more and throw more money in and I can't believe the ingratitude.

"There we were a few years ago just about to go out of the Football League, here we are stable in the Premier League. I'd hate to see this club going the way some clubs have gone recently."

Despite all their off-the-field problems, County are in form on it. They have risen to seventh in League Two and have enjoyed a great cup run that has seen them defeat Premier League Wigan away.

They are 65 places below Fulham in the league ladder but Hodgson is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

"It's been a strange season for them, hasn't it?" he said. "The year before, they didn't do that badly in the league and people were perhaps expecting that to continue. All of a sudden, there is a massive takeover, a Chelsea, Manchester City-style investment in the club, with people like Sven-Goran Eriksson coming in.

"It's been very difficult for me from distance to fully understand how these clubs think and operate.

"What I do know is they have done exceptionally well in the league and the cup recently, so irrespective of the financial problems, they have only lost once in the last eight games and have six victories.

"They have beaten Wigan at Wigan to boot. We would be very foolish not to expect a tough game from them and to not expect them to be a tough nut to crack."

Hodgson has no new injury worries for Sunday and has welcomed back Zoltan Gera (knee) and Paul Konchesky (foot) from injury.

The County game will come too soon for the pair, though, and Hodgson is set to name the same team that started the 3-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League on Tuesday.

That means another start for David Elm, the Swedish striker who opened his account for the club with a goal against the Clarets in his second-successive start.

"What we're going to find with him, I'm sure, is that it's going to weigh heavily on him game after game but it was really good to see that he repaid the faith we've always had in him," Hodgson said.

"We've seen a good player in him and we have always believed that if he got his chance, he is good enough to take it."

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