Fulham have fourteen matches in which to preserve their Premier League status for another season. It's been an odd campaign from top to bottom with both halves of the table embroiled in close races of decidedly different character; a real best of times, worst of times dichotomy. Despite sitting in last place, Fulham are only separated from tenth place Aston Villa by eight points. That's the good news.
The bad news, and it's news that's not unfamiliar to any Fulham supporter, is that the club has shipped fifty three goals this season, drawn only once, and infuriatingly relies on narrow, static tactics to underwhelm its opponents. Add to this the fact that Rene Meulensteen now has to rely on immediate heroics from a number of new signings, and one can see why the Cottagers are the bookies' favorites to go down.
Looking at the final fourteen matches, an optimistic but not insane high end expectation would be that Fulham could pick up sixteen points. That would put the club on thirty five points after the final match day with no hope of help from goal differential. The last time that points haul was good enough to avoid relegation was in the 2009-10 Premier League season when Burnley and Hull City went down on thirty points with Portsmouth propping up the table on nineteen.
Meulensteen has said the club need to win seven of their final fourteen matches to have a legitimate chance at survival. This would more than double the number of matches Fulham have managed to win thus far this season, and with the first two matches of that fourteen match stretch away to Manchester United and home against Liverpool, one has to imagine it's more like seven of the final twelve, although recent visits to Old Trafford have been the cure for what ails a number of Premier League clubs.
Cardiff and West Ham, the two other clubs currently wallowing in the relegation zone, both have a very real chance of picking up six points each in their next two contests, with Cardiff taking on Swansea away and Aston Villa at home and West Ham scheduled to play Aston Villa away and Norwich at home.
With some supporters already calling for Rene Meulensteen's ouster, a stance I vehemently disagree with, the club could find itself eight points adrift at the bottom of the table with a new manager and only twelve matches to come good. No matter how you slice it, with Meulensteen or without, things will get worse before they get better.
If Fulham do go down, it will be because of what has happened in the twenty four matches prior to Sunday's contest at Old Trafford, not the fourteen remaining matches. Fulham supporters must get behind the club, the manager, and the players. This isn't a side that is one or two adjustments from safety, this is a side in need of a second Great Escape. Ironic booing and delusional calls for quick fixes are not the order of the day.
PS Rene, in spite of everything I just wrote, if you're going to abandon 4-3-3 and stick with 4-2-3-1, and I'm flummoxed as to why you would, can you at least stop with the inverted wingers experiment? Please and thank you.