What do Fulham need to do to stay in the Premier League?
After a sensational second-half of the campaign and a thrilling – if nervy – play-off success over Aston Villa, Fulham are back in the Premier League.
The Cottagers will return next season for the first time since they were relegated in 2014.
Fulham’s first Premier League sojourn lasted a commendable 13 seasons, a run which included four top-half finishes.
But much has changed since the West Londoners were last in the top-flight. So what do they need to do to stick around at the second time of asking? Here’s our three-point plan…
Stick with the manager – and back him too
Fulham owner Shahid Khan has promised to back the club so that survival isn’t merely the sole aim. He wants his team to be comfortable in the Premier League.
And if he sticks with Slavisa Jokanovic, that’s a good start. The Serbian was ditched by Watford after getting the Hornets promoted in 2015, so he has unfinished business in the Premier League.
Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion proved last season that you don’t have to spend mega amounts of money to stay up.
And crucially, both sides stuck with their manager and backed them all the way, even during difficult times. It wasn’t a coincidence both clubs survived.
West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City and Stoke City all chopped and changed managers, only to find themselves relegated anyway.
Get Premier League savvy
Fulham played some beautiful football last season, but that will only get you so far in the Premier League.
Both Huddersfield and Brighton had to sacrifice attractive football in order to get results. It’s the only way to go unless you’re an established side. Make yourselves hard to beat and take it from there.
There isn’t too much top-tier experience in the current Fulham squad either, which may be an area in which they can – and should – strengthen this summer.
Acknowledge their strengths
That said, Fulham must also make the most of their blistering quality up front.
Ryan Sessegnon came of age last season. The 18-year-old made 52 appearances in all competitions, bagged 16 goals and supplied the promotion-winning assist in the play-off final.
And in Aboubakar Kamara, Fulham have a striker of blistering pace and a real asset for counter-attacking football – something many newly promoted sides often rely on.
Unleash that pair on Premier League defences, and the Cottagers could do alright next term.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication