As a Fulham fan, it is hard to not feel a certain ‘déjà vu’ about how this season is ending. Fulham have slowly dropped down the table, falling right into the heart of another relegation battle. With only one win in the last ten, alarm bells are ringing louder than ever before. This season was meant to be the start of the rebuild, a season where we were looking up not down. As the season draws to a close, once again, the Cottagers find themselves looking over their shoulder. This article could highlight the frustration of decisions on and off the field that had led to this point, or it could even moan about the dismal performances the team have delivered. However, those issues are there for everyone to see, and everyone has different ideas on how those issues can resolved. This article looks at whether anyone associated with the club, can celebrate surviving in the Championship, particularly when you consider Fulham could survive due to the failing of others. Fundamentality meaning the Whites would avoid relegation by default.
Fulham currently sit six points clear of the drop as it stands, after earning what can only be described as a valuable point against Sheffield Wednesday. Wigan earned all three points away to Rotherham, to reduce the gap from nine to six points. Wigan have the pressure on them to claw those points back, in some regards Fulham have a cushion that affords them a minimum of two poor results. Fulham face the prospect of Wigan taking the fight directly to them when they travel to Craven Cottage in April. If the cushion is still established at that point, a draw could be enough to save Fulham and curse Wigan, however, that would also be dependent on other teams’ results in the relegation battle. Is this the attitude Fulham should adopt? Should they really be looking at other teams’ results, and breathing sighs of relief? It signals a lack of ambition, and it is the mentality of accepting the current results of the team.
At the start of the season, would it have been considered an achievement for Fulham not to be relegated? On the hypothetical day in which Fulham are deemed safe, should a smile break out amongst fans? The answer is no, sure be happy in the knowledge that the worst-case scenario has not occurred again, but it is a depressing state of affairs that the club has to wait to be confirmed safe, especially, so late on in the season. Being safely rooted in mid table would have been a disappointment considering we have a very talented squad on paper; however, it would have been a platform for next season.
At this point, it does not seem like Fulham have learnt their lessons and moved on. It does not feel like they have adapted to the Championship, it still feels like a situation that needs to be addressed. You would have thought, young players would have gained playing time and improved as a result. Fulham’s academy has provided happier moments then the first team in the last few season, but only a handful of those youth players have grabbed the opportunity and stepped up to the plate. Look at players like George Williams, who, at the start of the season, looked like he was ready to have an impact on games. However, he ended up being loaned to MK Dons, where he did not exactly set the world on fire in his few appearances before suffering a serious injury. He still looked like a player who had not found his ideal role, or place in the game and league experience was meant to help in terms of that kind of development. He is not alone. In the case of undelivered potential this season, Patrick Roberts and Chris David had a lot of hope surrounding them at the start of the season, which amounted to nothing. Therefore, on the whole Fulham fans cannot take joy from the progression of the players, because it has not happened to the degree it should have.
It really feels like a temporary house has been built and it needs to be pulled down and built up from the bottom again before the start of next season. This season has just felt like a wasted opportunity, even if survival is ensured no cheer should be had. Instead, The Cottagers should just accept what league they are in, and start making plans to ensure this situation does not repeat the following season. As you hope that, it does not take a second relegation to send further shockwaves to the club’s system, in order for them to wake up and smell the coffee.