Relief for Hangeland
Brede Hangeland concedes it has been a far from easy season for Fulham but believes Monday night's derby defeat of QPR means they can push for another top-10 finish in the Barclays Premier League without fearing the drop.
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The west Londoners enjoyed a surprisingly good start to the campaign considering the likes of Mousa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and Danny Murphy left for pastures new in the summer.
That initial flourish soon wore off, though, and only a recent upturn in fortunes has prevented Martin Jol's side from being sucked into the relegation battle.
Last night's 3-2 defeat of QPR means the Cottagers are now unbeaten in five matches and puts them nine points clear of the drop zone, much to Hangeland's relief.
"Hopefully now we can sleep well at night, knowing we will be in the league next year and look up a little bit," the Fulham captain said.
"It is so tight and if it hadn't been for this really good run recently we could have been in trouble, but luckily we seemed to turn the corner after the new year."
Relief was also the overriding emotion following Monday's west London derby as Fulham had to withstand a spirited QPR comeback.
After Dimitar Berbatov's brace and a Clint Hill own goal saw them race ahead, Adel Taarabt struck back on the stroke of half-time and, having seen a penalty saved moments earlier, Loic Remy reduced the deficit further.
Steve Sidwell's late red card resulted in a nervy ending but Fulham held on to make it back-to-back victories.
"I was almost disappointed after the game because we controlled it so well in the first half and controlled it really well," Hangeland said.
"The second half was the complete opposite so it was a bit strange but obviously we're delighted to get the three points.
"They came back just before half-time, which was disappointing, and then we knew it would be a fight in the second half.
"Especially after the sending off we knew it was going to be tough and credit to them, they played really well and made life difficult for us.
"We managed to hang on and we're really happy, so too I imagine are the fans."
Hangeland was impressive at both ends for Fulham last night and produced an exquisite backheel in the build-up to their third goal.
"I found myself far away from my normal position and was delighted to play a part in that goal," he said with a smile.
"Dimitar told me afterwards 'even though we scored, stay back and leave that to me'. He is a funny guy."
It was a fine way for the defender to cap his first match since ending months of speculation over his future by penning a two-year extension at Craven Cottage.
"You would have to ask my agent [if there was other offers] but who cares now," Hangeland said.
"My priority was to stay here. I've enjoyed my time with Fulham and I think there wouldn't have been any better options for me.
"I am very happy. I think everyone knows that.
"I have said many times how much I like it here and to extend my stay was great news and I am really happy to sort it out."