Boss has sympathy for Sheffield United

Fulham head coach Rene Meulensteen has expressed sympathy for today’s FA Cup opponents Sheffield United.

The Blades are currently struggling in League One and are one of a number of former Premier League sides who have dropped down the divisions because of financial difficulties.

Ahead of Fulham’s fourth-round clash at Bramall Lane, the Whites boss said: “I’m surprised by their fall but that’s not to single out Sheffield United – there are a few clubs with a massive history who have dropped out of the Premier League.

“There aren’t many teams in the Championship, for example, who have not been in the Premier League. So many of them have invested and got in there, stayed for maybe a year, and then dropped out.

“It’s all to do with the finances and management of it because we all know, and you just have to look around the world, lots of clubs have these problems. It’s very hard to maintain a certain status.”

Meulensteen added: “It’s tough to get back up there because when you are in the Premier League you get higher levels of players. If you drop out then you’re less attractive at pulling players in to get you back up.

“It’s a domino effect – and if you can’t stop that then you’re going to get those sorts of problems.”

Meulensteen insists his team cannot afford to underestimate United after the Yorkshire side beat Aston Villa in round three.

He said: “It’s a false sense of security to think we have the players to just turn up and win. We are a big scalp for them.

“I’ve watched them in League One and how they played against Villa and they were like two different teams. That’s what motivation and the challenge can do for you.

“We can’t be complacent. It’s going to be an erratic game and we will need to remain calm and focused.”

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