Fulham V Spurs at Craven Cottage : Match Preview
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New boss Meulensteen rallies team
New Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen has challenged his team to stand up and take responsibility for their own form - starting against Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Fellow Dutchman Martin Jol was dismissed by billionaire owner Shahid Khan following what was a sixth consecutive defeat as the 3-0 capitulation at West Ham left the Cottagers 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 in that short space of time has been able to pinpoint just where the team's deficiencies lie as he plots a move up the table.
"We need to make sure the players take responsibility, with work-rate and their discipline," Meulensteen said to BBC Radio Five Live.
"Fulham have had too many poor results and we must now create a platform to get away from our position."
Meulensteen had two spells on Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom staff at Manchester United but his experiences 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.
Right-back Sascha Riether will return from a three-match suspension for the clash with Spurs after he was handed a retrospective ban for stamping on Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj, which was not seen by the match officials at the time but caught on video.
Defender Brede Hangeland could be available again 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."
Tottenham have also had a difficult time of it lately, responding to a 6-0 thrashing by Manchester City with a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.
Kyle Walker, who scored Spurs' opener at White Hart Lane on Sunday, said: "The players in the dressing room know we have to dig deep, show why we are playing for Tottenham, why we are playing for such a big club, a top-four club and prove to the fans and the gaffer and the chairman why they put the faith in us."
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is aware of Fulham's threat, despite their poor recent run of results.
"Both teams are looking for a result to bounce back," he said.
"We hope it falls for us and they will be hoping the same. It can launch either team's season."
The fixture has come to soon for Danny Rose, who has missed the last 15 games with a toe injury.
The left-back will return to training later this week, but he may have to wait until the Europa League game against Anzhi on December 12 to make his comeback.
Although Spurs have a packed schedule coming up, Villas-Boas will be loathe to make serious changes to his team for the Fulham game after Sunday's encouraging result.
Still, Villas-Boas admits he is pondering a change in formation from 4-2-3-1 to the 4-4-2 system which some fans yearn for so much.
"We can probably look at it," the former Chelsea boss said.
"It depends. We have been successful in some way with one off the striker but there is a possibility."
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