Coleman hails Al Fayed as another signing looms

January 22, 2006

Fulham boss Chris Coleman has hailed chairman Mohamed Al Fayed as he closes in on his fourth signing of the January transfer window.

Coleman feared he would have little cash to spend this month but instead the former Wales defender has been armed with a valuable transfer kitty to strengthen his squad.

Finland goalkeeper Antti Niemi and New Zealand midfielder Simon Elliott have arrived on permanent deals while Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge has agreed to join on loan until the end of the season.

But Coleman has another target in his sights as he bids to steer Fulham to a Premiership top 10 finish.

'I've got my fingers crossed that maybe there'll be another player coming through - we're working hard on that,' he said.

'I have to say that the chairman and board of directors have been fantastic. They've given me their full backing.

'Hopefully we may get another one through the door before the end of the window.'

Fulham had a £1.2million bid for Portsmouth's left-sided midfielder Matt Taylor turned down on Thursday with Coleman declining to increase the offer when it became clear Bridge was available.

'We were linked with Matt Taylor - he's a good player. But nothing's going to happen with us and Portsmouth,' he said.

'Wayne Bridge was our number one priority. Of course when you go for a player, you can't just go for one because you've got to have a contingency plan.'

In the past Coleman has made no effort to hide his dislike for transfer windows but this January his efforts have met with considerable success.

One more new arrival would put Fulham in a strong position with several players winning their battles against injury and Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop set to return from African Nations Cup duty.

And with last Saturday's 1-0 victory over Newcastle giving the Cottagers back-to-back Premiership wins for the first time in 21 matches, Coleman is right to look to the future with optimism.

'We've got one or two players coming back so the squad's looking a lot healthier than it was,' he said.

'We've got 16 games left - eight home and eight away. We can have a good finish. It's still very tight and we mustn't get carried away but we've got to look forward.'

A top 10 finish would herald a successful third term in football management for Coleman and, the Fulham boss suspects, would also generate further ill-feeling among some critics.

'The trend is managers are becoming younger. Before the average age was between 45 and 50 and managers had to come through the ranks, starting at youth level,' he said.

'A few ex-managers who are out of the game have had a snipe at people like myself and Mark Hughes because of that. We broke the mould and they don't like it.

'They don't like us getting success by different ways. I don't lose any sleep over it though.'