There has been a constant theme surrounding Fulham Football Club since I started following them in the 2007-2008 season, and that has been the fear of relegation. A season has not gone on since then, that I have not heard discussions about relegation.
Listen, I certainly understand the fear of relegation as many clubs have had a very hard time coming back up, while others have not been able to. However, the mentality to always think the worst is going to happen is just not the way I view Fulham even now.
We are twelve games into a thirty eight game season, so we are not even a third of the way through, and the talk about relegation is as strong as I can remember since my beginning of following the club. The funny thing, for all of the worrying that I have seen on social media because they currently sit 18th, they are only five points away from possibly being 10th.
The issue I have is the goal should be getting into the top ten by the end of the season, and not be pure survival. Fulham have been in the league way too long, and honestly the fans deserve that after all of this time.
There have been serious relegation scares over the years including the Great Escape, but even in the good years, like the Europa League Final season, I heard and read about fears of relegation. I think the focus needs to go away from this negative approach, and focus on how Fulham can end the season in the top ten.
When new Fulham owner Shahid Khan took over, he mentioned in interviews that for this season he wanted to see better for Fulham than last season which was 12th, and that fans should not have to worry about relegation. Well, with the slow start to the season, I can honestly say right now Fulham do not look like a top ten side, and they currently sit in the relegation zone.
However, that does not mean they will end there when we are finished with the league season. To get to the goal, I have mentioned, there is no question that change was needed, and we have already seen that with the hiring of Rene Meulensteen as head coach.
Rome was not built in a day, but based on the first half performance I saw from Fulham against Swansea, it was a very small step in the right direction. The change of formation in this match was proof that Meulensteen and Jol are trying to fix the issues Fulham are having.
Another change was naming Scott Parker captain for the last match, as he really is a leader on the pitch. I am sure there will be more changes to come, and we still have the January Transfer Window to add a few players to continue to the changes with Fulham.
I think the addition of the new Head Coach will help fix the issues Fulham are having, because he is known as a training ground coach, and hopefully what they are doing during the week now can be transferred to the matches. He is the biggest addition to Fulham this season.
I know there are many fans that want Fulham manager Martin Jol gone, but I have a feeling he will be given time to work with his new coach before any decision on him is made. I don't think a loss at home to Swansea will force the owner to make another change at this time.
One last thing I want to say about the Fulham manager, and that he should stop focusing so much on relegation as well. I have heard him mention in several interviews that getting to 40 points is the first goal. I disagree with that approach as I think the mentality should be to get to 50 points, because that could put Fulham in range for the top ten. I think by focusing so much on relegation, you are sending the wrong message to the players and the fans.
Fulham need to take a more positive approach moving forward, and strive for better, because the club and the fans deserve that. Relegation is a possibility, but it should not have the amount of attention it gets.
So how can Fulham move forward to the top ten? Like I mentioned prior, they are only currently about five points away from being in range. The first step is getting points as soon as possible, but improving from match to match. Fulham need to take it one match at a time.
On the pitch, they need to play solid in the back, to give themselves a chance to win. The back four I feel are the key to stability in these matches. If the defense is solid, the players in the midfield, and up front can then have the confidence that they can do their jobs, which is creating scoring chances and goals.
What it comes down to it, Fulham need to play as a "team" once again, with all the players being on the same page. We saw that under Roy Hodgson, and it has been awhile since I have seen that type of play from Fulham. My hope is that Meulensteen will instil that "team" mentality, while still having our players up front be creative.
It is his job now to marry a team concept along with allowing the players individual talent to shine through. This is simply "doing your job" and your teammates will do theirs.
In concluding, I will predict two things, and they are Fulham will not be relegated this season, and they will end the season in the top ten. Change began a few weeks ago with our new head coach, and now patience is needed because anything worthwhile doing takes time. I know I am going to be patient because I know we still have time to make my predictions come true.