Fulham were unable to avoid relegation from the Premier League last season, finishing 19th on 26 points – but there is a strong belief they can bounce right back under Scott Parker’s leadership.
Despite a £100m spending spree last summer, the Cottagers struggled to adapt to life in the big time, falling way short of what was required to survive. Accumulating just seven wins all season, the west London club were demoted and will have to do it all over again.
The Championship is an excitingly competitive division. There is an abundance of talent which is yet to be discovered by ‘big’ clubs, and gaining promotion is a problematic prospect for any team. However, Fulham manager Parker has made a positive impression on the fans following his stint as caretaker manager at the back-end of last season and his philosophy and ambitions have excited the fans for the 2019/20 campaign after he was made permanent manager.
Fulham were handed a huge boost after Aleksandar Mitrovic signed a new long-term contract with the club. The 24-year-old netted 11 times and registered three assists in 37 league appearances last season, demonstrating his prolific nature in a struggling west London outfit. The Serbia striker will be essential to Fulham’s success next season, and if you think the Cottagers will have what it takes to gain promotion, click here to find the best football betting offers if you want to place a bet – Fulham are currently priced at 9/4 to be promoted.
There is no doubt that Fulham are financially equipped to bounce back, but they must demonstrate their quality on the pitch. Too many players last season went hiding and Parker must find a way to integrate the players into a hard-working environment. 46 league games in a season is both physically strenuous and mentally exhausting; regularly rotating the squad is imperative to sustain a promotion challenge throughout the season. The Cottagers have a healthy squad compared to most in the division and they will be eager to return to the Premier League and compete with the elite clubs once again.
They will face stern competition, though, and the likes of Leeds United, Cardiff City and Stoke City all share the same desire and ambition to leave the Championship behind. This division is, arguably, the most competitive and most difficult to gain promotion from, especially with the unknown and unexpected quality some teams possess.
Another player who will be key to their success is captain Tom Cairney. The versatile midfielder had a very disappointing 2018/19 season, scoring just one goal and registering one assist in the league. However, he has proven what an excellent player he can be in the Championship, scoring five goals and registering five assists in their 2017/18 promotion campaign – netting 12 times and registering 11 assists in the season prior to that. The 28-year-old inherits leadership qualities that are extremely valuable to the squad, setting by example and dictating the tempo of matches.
Fulham demonstrated last season that their mentality was too weak to compete in the Premier League and Parker will be looking at the likes of Cairney to bring back the identity of the west London club and demonstrate their desire, as well as their quality, to succeed.
The Cottagers have demonstrated their ability to surge out of the division before, and if they bring the same attitude and commitment into this season, there is no reason why they cannot repeat that achievement. Parker is an energetic, passionate manager who demands 110% from his team, which will play a massive advantage over the course of the season, but getting the fundamentals correct is not enough – Fulham must demonstrate their quality on the pitch to prove they deserve to return to the big time.