LONDON: Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri says his team need “soldiers” to help them avoid relegation after only one season back in the Premier League.
The Italian took charge in November with Fulham in deep trouble having struggled under Slavisa Jokanovic and he has been unable to lead a sustained recovery.
They have won three times in the league since, compared to once in the first 12 games of the season, but remain second from bottom with 17 points, seven behind Burnley who are one place above the relegation zone.
Fulham have lost four of their last five league games and on Saturday host a Manchester United side who have won seven and drawn one since Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer was appointed interim manager following Jose Mourinho’s sacking.
“We know where we are, we know it’s very tough and we need soldiers who fight until the end,” Ranieri told reporters on Thursday.
“We are ready to fight. I have to motivate them and give my positivity to our players. It’s much better to play at home than away. It’s very important to achieve points against this team.”
United face Paris St Germain the following week in the Champions League, but Ranieri is not expecting them to take their eye off the ball at Craven Cottage.
“Big teams are used to playing match by match. I think they (Man United) will be very focused on Saturday, before thinking about PSG,” he said.
“They have so many good players. We must concentrate, be strong and show our personality during the match.”
United, who are unbeaten in 10 league games against Fulham, can climb into the top four with a victory.
Midfielder Andre Schuerrle is available again for Fulham after missing the 2-0 defeat by Crystal Palace due to injury.