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Ranieri insists Fulham players are responding to his methods

Under-pressure manager Claudio Ranieri believes Fulham’s players are responding to his methods, despite the club’s perilous Premier League position.

The 19th-placed Cottagers look almost certain to be playing Championship football next season after falling 10 points adrift of safety following a damaging 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Southampton.

Wednesday’s setback on the south coast was a seventh loss from eight top-flight games for Ranieri’s side and was greeted with anger and protests from the travelling fans.

Despite the precarious situation at Craven Cottage, the Italian feels his squad are trying their best to implement his tactics.

“Yes, I think so. But this question you have to ask to the players, not to me,” he said.

“Always, I’d say ‘yes, they respond’.

“We tried to do our best but that’s it, the maximum my players can do.”

Ranieri replaced the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic in November and his tenure began in positive fashion with a dramatic 3-2 victory in the home game against Southampton.

Since then, the 67-year-old has taken just nine points from a possible 45, including the defeat at St Mary’s which was inflicted by first-half goals from Saints pair Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse.

He faced chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ from Fulham supporters following his second-half substitutions, while banners questioning his appointment and in support of predecessor Jokanovic were unfurled in the away end.

Ranieri, who faces upcoming games against former clubs Chelsea and Leicester before daunting back-to-back matches against title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City, said after the game that he was unsure if could lose his job.

Victory for the hosts ended a four-match winless run and moved them out of the relegation zone and into 17th place above Cardiff.

Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl praised the response of his players to recent poor form and feels the result puts a different complexion on Saturday’s trip to in-form Manchester United.

“It’s not a shame to fail, because it’s all about failing in football,” said the Austrian.

“It’s about how you stand up again and the team was showing that they knew exactly what to do.

“It’s a completely different situation now as if you lose (to Fulham) and you go to Man United.

“It’s important that we give a clear focus on what we did very good and maybe also a chance to take something in Man U.”