Berbatov key for Fulham rise

first_img Meulensteen admits there will be talks about Berbatov’s future in January but denies he has told the Bulgarian he can leave. “What I said is I will not stand in anyone’s way if they wanted to leave. With Dimitar I had a good chat when I took over and he has been as good as gold to me, looking at the performance he has put in against Tottenham and Aston Villa,” Meulensteen said. “With him we are going to really focus on the four upcoming games we have got and from the performance levels that I have seen, I am sure everyone will agree if Dimitar plays at that level, he will be a very important player in the games to come.” On the transfer window, Meuelensteen added: “We will discuss when we get there. “For me it is a challenge as a manager. I have known him (Berbatov) for many years, I have worked with him for a long, long time and football will always be about opinions. The proof is in the performances on the pitch and so far I can only be pleased with how it has been going.” Fulham travel to Everton on Saturday where they have never won in the league and Meulensteen believes they can build on the 2-0 win last weekend against Villa. “There is only one medicine really and the best medicine is a win in football matches,” he said. “Good performances build confidence, good results build confidence. The team is in very good spirits. It is not always easy to turn on and off but do the basics right, build from there and hopefully more good results will come our way.” Berbatov’s agent has claimed the Fulham striker is unhappy at Craven Cottage and the suggestion was that he would look for a move in the January transfer window. But Meulensteen, who took over as head coach until the end of the season following Martin Jol’s sacking, wants Berbatov to keep turning in the committed performances seen in the last two matches against Tottenham and Aston Villa. Press Association Rene Meulensteen insists Dimitar Berbatov is key to Fulham climbing up the Premier League table. Meulensteen carved his reputation as a coach working alongside Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and he hopes that experience will serve him well as he tries to steer Fulham out of the relegation zone. He admits it has been a culture shock, moving from one end of the league table to the other. Meulensteen said: “I have come from an environment when it was just picking up three points week after week. Target setting is important, it gives a focus and a purpose. But I make sure the players concentrate on the performance rather than the outcome.” The Dutchman is a big admirer of Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who has taken the Goodison club to fifth place in the league playing expansive football. He said: “Everton has always been a good side. Every manager has his style and he has definitely put an ingredient in there which made them believe that to play in an attacking style can get results against top teams. “They play more freely, a bit more adventurous. Roberto likes to experiment with different line-ups. He does like to have an attacking slant to it and it has worked. Look where they are in the league and how they have done against the big teams. They are there for a reason.” Striker Darren Bent has recovered from a slight hamstring problem and will be available for the squad travelling to Everton. last_img read more

Monk keeps his feet on the ground

first_img “It’s a fantastic start and great to have six points, I’m not going to lie about that,” Monk said after the game. “The way I am, the players know we have a (Capital One Cup) game on Tuesday and that is what we focus on. “It’s the best start we could have had, but we know we are only two games from being on your back and getting dragged down. “We have to build on what we’ve done and improve on mistakes.” Monk was delighted with how Swansea withstood Burnley’s second-half assault, with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski only really stretched once when David Jones burst onto Danny Ings’ pass and forced a fine save from the Polish international. “It was very hard. The first half we controlled the game and if we could have got a second that would have made it easier,” Monk said. “We spoke at half-time that they would throw everything at us and we weren’t at our fluent best, but we dug in and defended well. “Burnley were in a no-lose situation but we limited them to one shot on target and defended very well the whole game. Press Association Swansea boss Garry Monk insists he is not getting carried away with the club’s 100 per cent start to the Barclays Premier League season. Monk’s men followed up their shock opening-day win at Manchester United by beating battling Burnley at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea withstanding pressure for most of the second half after Nathan Dyer had given them a 23rd-minute lead. But Monk is fully aware of the pitfalls of management, even though he has only been in the Swansea hot-seat for eight months. “We know we have to show the other side of the game and there are times when you have to dig in. “The boys were magnificent in that respect and that comes from the work we have done in pre-season. “We would have liked it to be more comfortable but six points in two games is all you can ask for.” Burnley boss Sean Dyche admits his newly-promoted Clarets are on a fast learning curve after losing their opening two games to Chelsea and Swansea, but he remains positive with what he sees as signs of progress. “We showed them too much respect in the first half and that can happen for a team that’s just been promoted,” said Dyche. “The early part of the season it’s about believing that they belong and the first half we didn’t do that and they were the better side. “The second half we played with that freedom and I thought we were terrific – the quality and energy of play and the framework of the team to make sure we didn’t give chances away. “I’m not naive enough to think the growth period doesn’t have to be quick because it does. “But there were good signs against Chelsea because they’re a different animal at the moment. “Swansea are not Chelsea yet and, though they’ve done fantastic and they’re a very good side, this was probably a more realistic challenge which we applied ourselves to.” And Dyche insists that Burnley will be able to compete in the Premier League as the season unfolds. “I want them to play with freedom, quality and energy and I thought we did that in the second half,” he added. “That’s the challenge you’ve got and there’s times you’ll take an ugly 1-0 as any manager would, but the belief is there that we can compete at this level. “I want us to be brave, but not in a naive way, We want to play on the front foot, create chances and win games. “There were times when we might have to change slightly but I didn’t feel that was necessary today, even against a very good team like Swansea.” last_img read more