As soon as relegation was confirmed last season, focus turned to how Fulham must instantly bounce back to have any chance of returning to the premiership within the next three years. This was based on statistics that 27% of teams not promoted that quickly don’t return to the top flight. The championship can almost look like a graveyard of former premiership teams each with their own sob story. Fulham currently lie 22nd in the table with only seven points, resulting in them being fourteen points off the lead and twelve points of the playoffs. This doesn’t mean promotion isn’t still an option, other teams having proven this in the past from far worse positions. However, in the scenario that Fulham do not get promoted, there are positives that can be taken from the situation that is left.
As it stands, Fulham have not appointed a permanent manager yet, the decision being expected shortly. The new manager will be Fulham’s fourth over the course of two seasons. A manager needs time to achieve success; the extra year in the championship could be beneficial when applying their philosophies to a team. There would be less external pressure and to a degree internal pressure on the manager to deliver results that would achieve promotion in the second half of this season. As long as there was an upward trend in performances and acceptable results that led to Fulham to finish comfortably away from relegation, no one would be calling for the manager’s head. If promoted, the manager would be learning about his squad in a harder league. It would be much easier to build his squad up from the championship where there are more games to test his players.
The other stand out benefit is for the players themselves. It’s no secret that there was a massive personnel change after relegation, with a focus on making the squad younger. Fulham have plenty of standout youngsters among them; eighteen year old Emerson Hyndman and seventeen year old Patrick Roberts for example. The Championship is unanimously known as a much more physical league then the Premiership. The physicality if a bit overpowering now, will only aid their development in them becoming rounded players. The players would be made physically tougher, but more importantly mentally tougher, the more games they play in this league. It’s not just the physicality of the league that will benefit the youngsters. The players are more likely to get much more playing time in the championship partly due to the larger number of game which makes squad rotation key; but also the manager is more likely to give them a chance at this slightly lower level.
There’s also an off field benefit to be gained when it comes to the finances. The extra year of the young players improving and growing in their roles at the club would make them more ready for the step up to the Premiership. This would hypothetically mean less signings being needed when getting promoted. A lot of teams find the need to spend millions rebuilding their squad and seemingly starting from scratch after being promoted. This method can push a club’s finances to the limit just for the chance of staying in the premiership. It can simply leave them in a bigger mess if it doesn’t work and they’re relegated straight back down. It would be a luxury to only need a few players to add to the squad, and an extra season in the championship would make it a more likely possibility.