By Sonia Twigg, PA
Fulham have dropped out of the Premier League after just one season back in the top flight.
It is the club’s second relegation from the division since Scott Parker took over in the 2018-19 season.
What was the story of the season?
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) November 2, 2020
Fulham started the season in poor form, relying heavily on the squad which had got them into the Premier League via the play-offs, and it resulted in one point from their opening six league matches. The problems were evident when they shipped 10 goals in their first three games.
However, a recovery followed, largely bolstered by a number of loan signings and a formation change, and defensive performances started to pick up over the winter months. Fulham secured draws against Liverpool and Tottenham and went on a five-match unbeaten run.
Despite improvements in the defence and their determination, the Cottagers’ struggles at the top end of the pitch continued and, after their relegation was confirmed on Monday, they have just five wins to their name.
What happened to Fulham’s attacking threat?
Fulham have scored just 25 goals in the Premier League, a record only bottom-placed Sheffield United have not bettered.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has, as even Parker admitted, not had the season he would have wanted on his return to the top flight, despite netting 26 times in 41 appearances on his way to the Championship golden boot last term. This season he has scored just three goals.
January saw Fulham sign Josh Maja, who scored twice on his debut but has not gone on to star in the role. Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek has also struggled since joining in the summer.
Did Fulham use their funds wisely?
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) September 9, 2020
Fulham were widely criticised in the 2018-19 season when they were relegated despite spending almost £100 million on transfers.
This season they have dipped into the loan market instead, including for the experienced Alphonse Areola from Paris St Germain and Lyon’s Joachim Andersen, who has been stand-in captain for most of the campaign.
Many of the additions have undoubtedly been a success. Andersen has been linked with moves to the likes of Tottenham following his impressive form, while Mario Lemina and Ademola Lookman have started most of Fulham’s matches.
How did Scott Parker do in his first full Premier League season?
When Parker took over in Fulham’s last Premier League season, the club were all-but relegated, yet he led them back into the top flight at the first time of asking.
This time round, in part due to the use of the loan market, Fulham have gained some plaudits, especially for their defensive work, keeping nine clean sheets. However, despite Parker’s insistence that they were working on their attacking threat, they have scored just 25 goals.
Did Fulham shoot themselves in the foot?
A win at Anfield on March 7 should have been a catalyst for Parker’s men.
They had just made it 11 points from six matches and the previously ominous 10-point gap to safety had been reduced to just three, with the prospect of a game against then-17th-placed Newcastle on the final day of the season.
However, just as Fulham needed to kick on, their form slumped. Four successive defeats followed the win over Jurgen Klopp’s side and their inability to close out results was punished.
Wolves clinched a last-minute winner at Craven Cottage, while Fulham were denied all three points with almost the last kick of the game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.