Fulham may have claimed the last promotion place via the Championship play offs but the positive way in which they ended the previous campaign suggests that the Cottagers can do more than just survive as they take their place in the Premier League for 2018/19.
They are no strangers to the top flight of English football, having recently been in the Premiership prior to relegation in 2013/14 but how far can this current Fulham side go under manager Slavisa Jokanovic?
Fulham are one of the oldest established football teams in London and they started from humble beginnings as the local Sunday school side for Fulham St Andrews Church. A minor success was achieved in 1887 as the club won the West London Amateur Cup and following a brief name change to Fulham Excelsior, the side settled on its current shortened form – Fulham FC.
They continued to progress as an amateur club and the next notable point in their history came when Fulham were accepted into the Football League in 1907 on the back of two straight championship titles in the Southern League.
Up until the late 1940’s Fulham spent all of their time in the lower leagues and enjoyed some fleeting success in the FA Cup, reaching the semi final in 1907/08 but it wasn’t until 1949 that the West London side finally made it into English football’s top flight. The next twenty years were spent between the two divisions until, in 1969, Fulham were relegated again and spent an extended period of time back in the lower leagues.
There were some bright spots for the Cottagers and their fans: In the 1976/77 season, they attracted George Best and Rodney Marsh to the club to bring a bit of glamour to Craven Cottage. Their stays were brief but prior to their arrivals, Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery had provided a little more stability in a team that went all the way to the 1975 FA Cup final, before losing out to West Ham.
Sadly, the next decades proved to be difficult ones and in the mid 1990s, the club were in the lowest tier of the English league set up. A 17th placed finish in Division Three marked their worst showing ever but brighter times were around the corner as the club was acquired by Mohamed Al Fayed.
With the charismatic Frenchman Jean Tigana in charge, Fulham reached the Premier League for the first time in 2001. This marked a return to the top flight for the first time since 1968 and although the intervening years saw a drop to the Championship once again, it’s largely been a positive time for Fulham Football Club and 2017/18’s promotion could well lead to another period of sustained development.
Fulham have never won what would be termed today as a major trophy. The club reached the final of the FA Cup in 1975 but lost at Wembley to West Ham United but perhaps more remarkably, Roy Hodgson guided his Fulham team to the final of the Europa League in 2010.
Along the way, Fulham disposed of the mighty Juventus in a thrilling 5-4 aggregate victory in the Round of 16. Further wins over Wolfsburg and Hamburg followed before that final and although the English side ultimately lost, they certainly were not outclassed as they went down to Atletico Madrid by a narrow 2-1 scoreline.
This wasn’t a side packed with big names: Led by skipper Danny Murphy and spearheaded by striker Bobby Zamora, it was a competent team that really ‘punched above its weight’. Fulham have enjoyed success in the lower divisions throughout their history but when that 2010 achievement is put into perspective, it could genuinely be argued that this was the most notable period of football for the club.
Here is a summary of Fulham’s results in major English domestic competitions over the last few campaigns.
|Season||Championship||FA Cup||EFL Cup|
|2017/18:||3rd – Promoted to Premier League via Play Offs||3rd Round||2nd Round|
|2016/17:||6th||5th Round||3rd Round|
|2015/16:||20th||3rd Round||3rd Round|
Those stats, particularly those relating to league performances, highlight the transformation for Fulham under the new owner Shahid Khan. After a 20th place finish in 2015/16, it’s been an impressive climb back and with manager Slavisa Jokanovic, Khan appears to have a strong working relationship and that’s one that should help Fulham achieve their premiership aims in 2018/19.
The most important player for Fulham across the whole of the 2017/18 campaign was youngster Ryan Sessegnon. Although he’s not an out-and-out striker, the 18 year old scored 15 league goals for the Cottagers during the campaign and those efforts were vital as the club climbed out of the Championship and back into the Premier League.
Although he plays as a left winger or wing back, that is the type of record that may attract the bookmakers when it comes to setting enhanced odds promotions for the 2018/19 campaign. Many of these deals relate to first or anytime goals for individual players and Sessegnon may well be a focus.
While on loan at the end of the 2017/18 season, Aleksandar Mitrovic was arguably Fulham’s best player during the run-in with 12 goals from 17 games but he is back at parent club Newcastle United leaving pressure on the remaining strikers at Craven Cottage.
Fulham have been active in the transfer market this summer with the acquisition of Andre Schurrle, Jean Michael Serri and Maxime Le Marchand but they perhaps lack a key striker and that could be an area where manager Jokanovic should look to seek reinforcements.
Whatever happens, as a Premier league side Fulham will now attract live TV broadcasters and that will lead to a host of price boosts and enhanced odds deals from around the sportsbooks. Keep checking back as we will bring you the best of these as they land.