Fulham have earned a reputation of a ‘yo-yo’ club over the past few years after alternating between the Premier League and Championship across the last five seasons.
After securing top-flight promotion via the famous play-offs in 2019/20, the Cottagers experienced a thoroughly underwhelming 2020/22 season in the Premier League.
Led by Scott Parker, Fulham suffered relegation from England’s elite competition, having won the league’s joint-fewest five matches in their most recent Premier League campaign.
However, the Craven Cottage is on the verge of hosting top-flight matches again next term as Marco Silva’s men are galloping towards another promotion.
Inspired by Aleksandar Mitrovic’s record-breaking Championship exploits, Fulham go into the season finale as Championship leaders, having accrued 77 points from 37 outings.
With third-place Luton Town lagging a whopping 14 points behind, the Cottagers’ return to the Premier League looks like a near-certainty with seven rounds of fixtures left to go.
Yet, after proving more than capable of earning promotions to England’s top-flight, Fulham will face an uphill task to maintain their Premier League status next season.
That has often proved unachievable for the London outfit in recent years.
So what should they do to avoid another disappointment?
#1 Mitrovic has to stay
After finishing as the Championship top-scorer in 2019/20, Mitrovic found himself relegated to playing second fiddle to Ivan Cavaleiro in Fulham’s most recent Premier League participation.
That did not pan out well for Parker’s side as they finished the season as the second-worst attacking side in the league, having netted a measly average of 0.71 goals per game.
Fast forward one season, Mitrovic has shattered Ivan Toney’s record of 31 goals scored in a single Championship campaign.
It has taken the Serbia international only 32 league appearances to rack up 33 goals and set a new milestone in England’s second-tier.
Mitrovic has since added two more goals to his eye-catching tally to cement his status as an elite striker in the Championship.
With 35 goals and seven assists in the Championship under his belt, the 27-year-old has been directly involved in 47% of Fulham’s league goals this season.
#2 Fulham have to replace outgoing Fabio Carvalho with another top-class player
Fabio Carvalho has been a revelation this Championship season, building a reputation of a whizz-kid, courtesy of his jaw-dropping performances at Craven Cottage.
Despite his relatively young age, the 18-year-old has been one of Fulham’s most consistent performers this season, tallying seven goals and six assists in league action thus far.
Apart from his decent attacking output, Carvalho’s ability to drift past opposition defenders and create spaces for his teammates has been off the charts.
The youngster’s blistering pace and dazzling feet have dominated transfer news headlines this season. Carvalho has attracted attention from several Premier League sides, including Liverpool, who were on the cusp of landing his signature in January.
With his contract running out in the summer, Fulham will be powerless to stop him from leaving this time around, with AC Milan now in the driving seat to capture his services.
Carvalho’s imminent departure will leave the Cottagers short of options in the attacking department, which is likely to force the club chiefs to dig into their pockets for reinforcements.
#3 Backline has to stay as compact as this year
Mitrovic has not been the only shining light at Fulham this season as their defence remains one of the key reasons they are on course to return to the Premier League.
Only second-placed Bournemouth (31) have conceded fewer goals in the Championship this season than the Cottagers (32).
Silva’s men have shipped 2+ goals in a league-low six Championship games this season, establishing themselves as one of the toughest teams to break in the division.
Tosin Adarabioyo and Tim Ream have forged a formidable defensive partnership in front of Marek Rodak’s goals, with Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson providing further cover from the flanks.
But Ream will turn 35 next season, meaning Fulham would likely have to add another centre-back in the summer to allow the USMNT veteran to manage his playing time more carefully in 2022/23.
Adarabioyo, 24, has developed into a reliable defender this season, and the Cottagers have every intention to build their backline around him for years to come.