LONDON (Reuters) - Rene Meulensteen cut a forlorn figure on the Craven Cottage touchline on Tuesday as he watched his Fulham side “hit rock bottom” with an embarrassing 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat by League One Sheffield United.
Shaun Miller’s headed goal in the last-minute of extra time helped United, second-bottom in England’s third-tier, to a fifth round clash with either Preston North End or Nottingham Forest.
“If you talk about this game and ask ‘have we hit rock bottom?', we probably have,” the Dutchman was quoted as saying by British media.
“If you say that, then it cannot get any worse, it can only get better.”
Meulensteen, a former assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, has endured a difficult spell at the west London club since replacing Martin Jol in December.
The 49-year-old has picked up three wins in 11 league matches since taking charge and, with his side now bottom of the Premier League, Meulensteen is under pressure.
But the former Anzhi Makhachkala manager, who signed seven players in the January transfer window including record buy Kostas Mitroglou for a reported 11 million pounds ($17.9 million), is confident he has the backing of owner Shahid Khan.
“Listen, (the owner’s confidence) will only last until that is gone,” he said.
“Until that time, I will just keep doing the job the best I can. I have no worries in that respect at all.”
Fulham, who have 19 points from 24 matches, travel to Manchester United on Sunday with Meulensteen well-aware of the need to start picking up points.
“The most important thing is that we don’t lose our togetherness, because that’s the only way to get out of this mess,” he added.
”If you start falling apart from within, then you start having an even bigger problem, and that cannot happen.
“We know it’s going to be difficult. We know we’ve got 14 games ahead of us and we need to really get our act together sooner rather than later.”
($1 = 0.6137 British pounds)
Reporting By Michael Hann; editing by Josh Reich