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Soccer-Fulham probably need seven wins to stay up - Meulensteen

Reuters

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Fulham will likely have to win half of their remaining Premier League games to survive in the top flight this season, manager Rene Meulensteen told a news conference on Monday.

"I think from the 14 games, we should probably have to win half of them," he said, with Fulham four points from the safety zone ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup fourth round replay at home to Sheffield United before a visit to Manchester United on Sunday.

The west London club emerged from a busy January transfer window to suffer a depressing 3-0 home league defeat by Southampton on Saturday that left them bottom of the table.

The 49-year-old Meulensteen brought in seven players and let eight go before his team lost their fourth consecutive league game but the Dutchman said he did not feel under pressure.

"You know what football is and I think I don't lose a night's sleep," he said, adding that a large number of Premier League managers risk losing their jobs.

"Probably 16 managers are under threat, that is how football works," added Muelensteen, who has been unable to stop Fulham's slide since replacing fellow Dutchman Martin Jol in December.

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Their deadline-day recruits - Kostas Mitroglou, John Heitinga, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe - were all watching as Southampton's England trio of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodgriguez scored in the second half at Craven Cottage.

Meulensteen will hope Greece striker Mitroglou, who joined for a reported club record fee of 11 million pounds ($18.1 million) from Olympiakos Piraeus, can produce the form that got him 17 goals in 19 games for the Greek champions this season.

Only two of the new additions played on Saturday with on-loan midfielders Lewis Holtby and William Kvist handed their debuts, while fellow loanee, American international forward Clint Dempsey, was sent on as a substitute but to no avail.

But Meulensteen, a former assistant to retired Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, was optimistic the new signings were good enough to keep Fulham in the top flight.

Asked if the club could avoid relegation, he said: "If you really look at the quality we have in the squad, the experience we have in the squad, the determination we have in the squad, without a shadow of a doubt.

"All the ingredients are there for us to stay up. It's just up to us now, to me, my staff and the players, to make that happen," he added. (Writing by Pedro Redig; Editing by Tom Hayward)

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