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Michael Jackson statue has Fulham players' backing

Brede Hangeland insists the Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed's decision to erect a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage has the full support of the club's players.

LONDON // Brede Hangeland insists the Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed's decision to erect a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage has the full support of the club's players.

Al Fayed will unveil the commemorative statue commissioned in memory of his friendship with the controversial singer before Sunday's Premier League clash with Blackpool.

It was due to be erected at Harrods before Al Fayed sold the Knightsbridge store and the decision to relocate it has been opposed by some fans.

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However, Hangeland has reminded Al Fayed's critics of what the Egyptian has done for Fulham.

"Some of our players are Michael Jackson fans, some aren't, and that's the same in the general population," he said.

"His music has been on in the dressing room a couple of times. I'm sure we won when his music was played!

"Michael Jackson was a close friend of the chairman's and the chairman wanted to do this. It's something we as players respect.

"The chairman has done fantastic things for this club. We all owe him so much and he has been brilliant. So when he decided he wanted to do this we respected it.

"We have the deepest respect for everything about the chairman. If he wants to do this then it is all good.

"He comes in occasionally and talks to the players. He's a really nice guy and we all know what he has done for the club in my time here and long before I came.

"We all have a lot of good things to say about him. He has probably been the main factor in why the club has done well over the last 10 years or so."

Fulham occupy 13th place in the Premier League table but remain only three points above the relegation zone.

But with 35 points in the bank and eight games remaining - four of them at home where they are unbeaten in the league this year - they are well positioned to survive.

However, Hangeland insists the spectre of relegation remains very real.

"I always fear the drop until such time that we have enough points to rule that out," he said. "Apart from maybe five or six clubs in this league we all fear that.

"I certainly do and I will be very happy the day we have enough points this season. It is part of the pressure of being a Premier League footballer.

"There is the threat of relegation and you have to whatever you can to avoid it."

Hangeland admits he would have to consider his future at Craven Cottage if Fulham were relegated.

"It is something I haven't really thought about. I would like to think we won't go down," he said. "If that happened then I would have to think about things of course.

"But I love this club and I will do whatever I can to keep us in the Premier League."