De Jong: Defeat hurts players as much as fans
Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong admits the players are hurting as much as the fans over the 3-1 home defeat by Fulham that dealt a huge blow to the team's bid to snatch seventh spot in the Premier League.
Eastlands was left stunned after Stephen Ireland's marvellous opener on Sunday was followed by a Fulham fightback that ended a run of six successive home league victories for Mark Hughes' side.
Dutchman De Jong said the players were disappointed but would be looking to set things right with the next home match against Hamburg in the second leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final on Thursday.
"We tried to do our best but in the second half it all went wrong," De Jong told the club's website.
"I'm gutted, we all are - two wins in a row and you can be seventh, so it's tough when you lose that kind of game at home.
"That's football, but it still hurts. You put every effort into the game, so of course it hurts - we don't set out to lose on purpose, nobody does, and we need to repay the fans by showing our true quality now.
"We have a huge game now against Hamburg on Thursday in the UEFA Cup and it's very important to show the fans what we can do. We're hurting now, but we have to be positive and make a fresh start from today."
Sunday's defeat rounded off the worst week of the season so far for Hughes' injury-hit team, having been outplayed at Arsenal and then beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Hamburg.
But De Jong insisted not all is lost with the European campaign if the players can get their heads right.
"Of course it is going to be a huge test of our character, and we have a lot of young guys in the squad," he said.
"We have to get our thoughts right and our focus right for the Hamburg game. We have to show what we are made of now, show the right mentality out on the pitch.
"Everybody has to give everything for the team."