2018/19 Fulham Season Preview

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Fulham Manager Slavisa Jokanovic celebrates with the trophy during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final between Aston Villa and Fulham at Wembley Stadium on May 26, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Offside/Getty Images)

Fulham return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2013/14 season after winning promotion via the Championship play-offs last season. Tom Cairney scored the solitary goal in the Wembley fixture against Aston Villa to send the Cottagers back into the top flight.

Fulham Season Preview

Last Time Out

After spending two of their four years back in the Championship languishing towards the bottom, Fulham made the play-offs in the 2016/17 season, only to be beaten by Reading in the semi-finals.

However, they bounced back last year after a terrific season under Slavisa Jokanovic. The former Watford boss oversaw a stunning run of form which saw his side go 23 games unbeaten before succumbing to Birmingham City on the final day, which saw them lose out on automatic promotion to Cardiff City.

Before this run took place, Fulham were part of the highest-scoring Championship game of the season, as they ran out 5-4 winners in a thriller against Sheffield United at Brammal Lane. Teen sensation Ryan Sessegnon scored a hat-trick as Fulham, then in 17th, overtook three teams by defeating the then-third-place Blades.

Key Player

The Cottagers had a number of excellent players that aided their return to the Premier League, but the key man has to be 18-year-old Ryan Sessegnon. The teenager is already tipped for a big future in the game and many felt that he should have been part of the England World Cup squad, including manager Jokanovic.

Sessegnon started the season as a left-back but after his goal-scoring capabilities were discovered, he was quickly moved further up the pitch. He amassed 15 league goals for Fulham last season, a quite incredible total for someone not only of his age, but who also is not a striker.

Sessegnon has been linked to other clubs in the Premier League throughout the summer, but he seems keen on staying in West London for at least another season to establish himself as a Premier League player.

Manager – Slavisa Jokanovic

Jokanovic has had a well-travelled managerial career, starting at Partizan Belgrade in his home country and then going on to Muangthong United in Thailand. The Serbian has had one spell in England before, with Watford, and joined Fulham in 2015.

After steering them clear of relegation in the 2015/16 season, he achieved two consecutive top-six finishes with the Cottagers.

This is also the longest amount of time he has spent with a club, accumulating 130 games as their manager, with a win percentage of 46.9%.

He is a favourite with the Fulham fans and was even named as an outside choice to replace Antonio Conte at Chelsea, a job since taken by Maurizio Sarri.

Predicted Finish

Fulham have always been a neutral favourite to many, mainly due to their fairly attacking brand of football. It served them well in the Championship but the Premier League also requires a defensive resilience that evades them at the moment. During their 23-game unbeaten streak, they kept 11 clean sheets.

However, they have spent big in that area with the signing of Maxime Le Marchand from Nice. He looks set to replace one of Tim Ream and Denis Odoi in the heart of defence.

If Fulham really want to survive, they will also need to find a replacement for Aleksandar Mitrovic. The forward spent the second half of last season on-loan from Newcastle and scored 12 times in 17 appearances.

There have been multiple reports suggesting that Fulham are interested in pursuing another deal for the Serbian, and if they can, expect Fulham to survive the drop. 13th should be a realistic target for Jokanovic’s men.

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