Can Ranieri safe Fulham from relegation?
Claudio Ranieri knows precisely that the task of keeping Fulham in the Premier League it is a very difficult one. In the last weekend, the Cottagers suffered yet another defeat (2-0) against West Ham, and they are now rock bottom with serious issues in defence: Fulham are the only side in England without a single clean sheet in this season so far.
The way Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio scored at the weekend surely wouldn't have impressed the Italian manager whose the first task is to ensure the defence will improve significantly so that the Cottagers can have a chance of retaining the Premier League status.
According to betting site guide BestbettingSites, Fulham are now only 1/2 to be relegated with bookmakers clearly showing lack of confidence in Ranieri turning things around at Craven Cottage.
After the last match, the former Leicester manager also said that the lack of cutting edge up front is also a significant issue for his team at this current time. In fact, Fulham managed to shot at goal 16 times but couldn't find a single goal. Ranieri added that the Hammers won with two counter-attacks and that result was unbelievable.
He seemed, however, to be fully confident that his men are working as hard as they can and that if they continue with the same intensity during training, they do have a chance of avoiding the drop.
The winning times at Leicester City seems to have long gone as Claudio Ranieri looked like a man who was braced for a long and challenging winter with his arm folded across the chest and a beanie hat on his head. As in his style, the Italian manager tried to bring positivity to the south-west London club but things are continuing to be worrying with Fulham's defence that is continuing to leak goals every single game.
The difference in quality with West Ham wasn't huge, but the Hammers were clearly a lot more clinical, and there is a lot more work to do for Ranieri who has yet to achieve the defensive solidity they absolutely need to stay in the Premier League.
Fulham's first part of the Premier League campaign has been terrible: the Cottagers have won just one in 12 games and the start of the season expectation of a top-half finish looks like a dream now. Problems, however, are also in attack as it was evident against West Ham with a lot of golden opportunities wasted.
Ranieri's side, after all, played rather well but they need to improve significantly as the upcoming Christmas period could be determinant for their hopes of survival. Ranieri said that they need to stay calm as at the moment they are allowing their opponents to score very quickly. The Italian manager said that they are working to stay calmer and reflecting on situations without panicking.
Fulham is entering the festive season having conceded more goals than any other teams in the first 16 games of the Premier League since 1999. The Cottagers had come up short when it mattered most and even if the players are committed to the cause, it looks like at this rate it will not be good enough. Time is running out and what will happen over the Christmas period would probably be a 'make it or break it' for Fulham in the Premier League.