By Chris Davie at Craven Cottage
Mark Hughes has admitted he is in the hunt for a striker during the January transfer window after Fulham’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham United.
The Welshman watched on as Fulham enjoyed comfortable spells of possession during both halves, but ultimately found it difficult to create clear-cut openings against the worst defence in the league.
After being questioned in his post-match press conference regarding whether his side, who have only scored 17 in 18 league games this term, require a fresh face to spearhead their attack, Hughes revealed he will be on the lookout when the transfer window opens.
“That’s evident [we need a striker], we need that physical presence,” said Hughes.
“Obviously we've got Andrew Johnson but he’s been out and he’s only just back building fitness so it’s difficult to hang a hat on him. Moussa Dembele is coming back, I keep saying that, soon hopefully he’ll be fit.
“Hopefully [we can bring someone in], we need help in January, that big target man and then we’ll be fine. I keep saying it, we lack that cutting edge at the moment. We need to finish chances and take opportunities.”
Hughes was subjected to chants of 'You don’t know what you’re doing’ by the home fans after substituting Clint Dempsey during the second half, and at the end of the game boos rang out around Craven Cottage.
The defeat is in stark contrast to seven months ago when Fulham were playing in the Europa League final under Roy Hodgson, and since Hughes took over the club in July, he has failed to progress a side who are now embroiled in a relegation scrap.
But the 47-year-old insists Fulham’s supporters understand how he is trying to develop the team, and dismissed the chants thrown at him from the stands during the match.
“Fans understand we lack the cutting edge, but we didn’t defend well today, but in recent games we've showed composure, but their big strong guys [Carlton Cole and Frederic Piquionne] messed us around today,” said Hughes.
“I think there’s a little bit of frustration. Obviously if you lose home games then they’ll be frustrated but it hasn’t happened on a regular occasion this season.
“I think deep down the vast majority understand what we want to do and they’ll be patient.”
Fulham started brightly and took the lead after 11 minutes courtesy of Aaron Hughes’s header, but despite keeping the ball for long spells, a catalogue of defensive errors from Dickson Etuhu, Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes gifted West Ham their first away win of the season.
Hughes commended Fulham’s ability to gain control and felt his side had the chance to win the game but revealed his disappointment regarding frequent defensive lapses at Craven Cottage.
“Forty minutes or so we played good football, we had good possession, great chances and we could have won comfortably,” said Hughes.
“But we defended poorly, found ourselves two-one down after playing really well, which was a frustration once again.
“We tried taking it too them but they made it difficult, they got behind the ball, their two strikers played well, given the way we started that we looked on course for the win.”
Fulham can expect a tough physical battle in their next match as they travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City on December 28.