By Robert O'Connor, PA
Marco Silva said he will seek assurance that Fulham share his ambition before entering into talks over a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season.
The Cottagers remain on track for a highest-ever top-flight points tally this campaign, with two wins needed from their final three games to make it a record-breaking year.
Silva’s stock has risen greatly since taking over at Craven Cottage following the team’s relegation to the Sky Bet Championship in 2021, returning them to the Premier League at the first attempt and ensuring a comfortable mid-table finish.
They had briefly looked like challenging for Europe after a 1-0 win at Brighton in February took them sixth, but have dipped after winning only three times in the league since, a run that has in part coincided with the loss of top-scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic to an eight-game ban.
Mitrovic will return for Saturday’s trip to bottom side Southampton as Fulham seek to cap an historic season.
But with a gulf in resources an obstacle to breaking into the top seven, Silva was asked whether he would need to leave the club in order to fulfil his potential, or fight to try and break the league’s glass ceiling.
“Myself as a manager, always if you do something in one season, you should aim to do better the next season, it’s always like that,” said Silva. “I know that sometimes the high expectation plays against you as well, that is clear.
“My way to be in football is always to try to do something different, try to improve in all aspects of the game, to try to perform better. Of course if you perform better you start to achieve different results and try to improve the results as well.
“We have to be realistic, but at the same time we have to be really ambitious as a football club because the competition will be harder, will be more difficult and we have to prepare ourselves as best as we can.
“We want to improve all aspects of our game and as a club.
“Definitely (ambition will play a part in contract talks). It’s been like that from the first season I joined the club. First season, I knew what in that moment I was going to face, it was a club that was relegated, the situation in the Championship is to try to settle the team and get the best out if the squad that you have.
“The season after we did well in the market, not spending the same amount of money as other clubs but I think we did it really well. Next season we have to do the same, try to improve in all the areas of the squad, and of course match the ambitions of myself and the owner of this club like we did the last two seasons.”
Top-scorer Mitrovic will be available for the first time since being banned for grabbing the referee during Fulham’s FA Cup exit to Manchester United in March.
The striker has been training with the club throughout his suspension and Silva insisted he will be ready to play a part in his side’s final three games.
“I didn’t feel that I really needed to give him a week out of the club to be with the family or to relax a little bit,” said the manager. “He didn’t need it.
“What I saw from him always is him ready to work, it’s a very good sign, a sign that he knew what he is going to face during this long period, but at the same time he knew that he had to work really hard, and he did.
“Now it’s important for us to forget the last eight weeks and all the things that happened. If you compare with everything that happened this season, it’s unbelievable that number of games, but that was the decision and you have to respect it.”