The pressure on the Fulham manager Martin Jol is increasing after his much-changed Premier League side went down to an entertaining but ultimately chaotic defeat at the hands of the Championship side Leicester City.
The Cottagers conceded three goals in 13 minutes either side of half-time, two of which were directly attributable to errors by his defenders, and though they fought back with commendable spirit to level the score, Lloyd Dyer's late winner took the home side into the quarter-finals.
"If I feel pressure a lot of other managers feel pressure because we are not bottom of the league; there's still six or seven other teams on similar points or lower. For me it's not a problem," said Jol.
Whether the Dutchman will feel the same after Fulham's next two games, which see them face Manchester United at home and Liverpool at Anfield, remains to be seen. "We have to come up with a surprise result and if not we have to get points against the other teams we play against – a season is about more than two games," said Jol.
For a club, certainly, but not always for a manager. It said something about the respective form of these teams that most bookmakers made Leicester favourites to win. They came into the game having won their previous seven home matches while Fulham's last outing saw them fail to register a single shot on target in an abject effort at Southampton.
Only the goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and the centre-half Phillipe Senderos kept their places from the side which started that game at St Mary's, and among the nine new faces was that of Adel Taarabt, rather startlingly described by Jol recently as Fulham's Diego Maradona.
The Moroccan, who has been struggling with fitness this season, was detailed to play behind the lone striker Hugo Rodallega, and spent much of the first quarter pointing hopefully, but vainly, at his feet as the ball pinged past him. When Fulham did begin to pass the ball, however, it swiftly produced results.
Leicester's defence was pulled out of shape when John Arne Riise's run into space down the left saw the Norwegian cross low and Taarabt dummy, and an unmarked Rodallega was on hand to turn the ball into the empty goal.
Briefly they looked the more accomplished side, restricting Leicester to shots from distance. Anthony Knockaert's 30-yard free-kick four minutes before the interval was hit firmly enough, but should have been easily held by Stekelenburg. Somehow the goalkeeper allowed the ball to hit his chest, the ball looped up and Wes Morgan, following in, headed it calmly past the horrified goalkeeper.
Minutes later Fulham were again the architects of their own downfall. Senderos's attempted clearance cannoned into Paul Konchesky and rebounded straight to Chris Wood. The New Zealander promptly drove the ball hard under Stekelenburg.
Dyer, who replaced Konchesky at the interval, drove a wonderful chance wide at the start of the second half, but City's third was to arrive in short order. Ignasi Miquel was unmarked when he headed in Danny Drinkwater's cross. Leicester had not had time to sit on their cushion before it was removed.
Again the marking was conspicuous by its absence as Giorgos Karagounis crossed and Rodallega headed in his second. The home team's disinclination to sit on their advantage meant the game became increasingly open. Three minutes remained when Karagounis thundered a free-kick past the City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, but with extra-time looming Dyer slid the substitute David Nugent's cross past Stekelenburg.
"I thought the spirit before the game and during the game was really good. We had a few boys who showed they can play, and [they] will play on Saturday," said Jol, before adding, a little plaintively, that four or five of his changes had been down to genuine injuries. To that number may have to be added Rodallega, who left the field with a groin problem shortly after scoring his second.
"It's been a good night for us, no doubt about it," said the Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, whose decision to bring on his two first-choice forwards, Nugent and Jamie Vardy, after Fulham's third goal paid off spectacularly. "Let's not get carried away. The league requires a high level of consistency and performance, but cup games are what they are, sometimes you get away with things and you can't read too much into them."
Jol must hope his employers agree.