Claudio Ranieri has insisted that Fulham’s hopes of Premier League survival are still ‘alive’ after a gut-wrenching late defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at home on Sunday afternoon.
The Fulham boss berated his side’s lack of experience after allowing Spurs midfielder Harry Winks to score in the 93rd minute at Craven Cottage.
Ranieri positive about Fulham relegation fight
Ranieri’s team had gone deservedly ahead in the first half thanks to an own goal from Fernando Llorente, but Dele Alli equalised with a header for Tottenham just after half-time.
Fulham managed to frustrate Spurs in the second period, but Winks eventually found a route to the back of the net to grab the three points and leave Fulham seven points adrift of safety.
“Our first half was fantastic,” Ranieri insisted to reporters in his post-match press conference in West London.
“I think it was a good match. We controlled the match very well in the second half, in a different way to the first. The first goal we gave them was a gift and the second goal is unbelievable.”
Ranieri was furious that his side had chosen to launch a late free-kick in the box rather than keep possession. When they eventually lost the ball, Spurs went up the other end and scored in added time.
Ranieri furious with wasteful Fulham side
“We had a free-kick. Why did we have to boot the ball into the box? Why?” Ranieri explained, visibly exasperated.
“We lack experience. [It would have been better to] stay calm, keep possession and just finish the match.”
Despite the defeat, Ranieri was pleased with the performance. Fulham were exciting in the first half, playing with pace and confidence, and deserved their lead.
“The team gave a fantastic performance,” Ranieri said. “We are alive and we continue to fight. I told my players ‘well done’. They gave their maximum. We must continue to give the maximum.”
Ranieri: Performance vs Spurs shows why we must believe
When asked why he was so positive given Fulham’s position in the league, Ranieri explained “because when you play this kind of football and give this kind of performance, we have to believe [in ourselves]. I believe in my players.”
Fulham have games against Brighton and Crystal Palace coming up where they’ll hope to take some points, but then they face an in-form Manchester United side. With seven points to make up on Newcastle United, any chances of survival are very slim.