Fulham once again find themselves back in the Premier League after winning promotion from the Championship in dominant fashion. The Cottagers returned to the top flight at the first time of asking following their relegation in the 2020/21 campaign. Marco Silva orchestrated a run to the second-tier title, propelled by a free-scoring team in the final third. Fulham mustered an incredible 106 goals, 43 of which came from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The Cottagers proved that they could blow teams away with their prowess in front of goal in the Championship. The issue will be sustaining that level of clinical edge in the Premier League, where they will put to the test. Silva’s men are backed in the betting odds at 5/4 to be relegated for the third time in five seasons, which does not present great value, but could be worth using a stake to unlock a new customer offer available before the start of the campaign. There are not many sure bets to be made, but the signs do show that Fulham could be in trouble once more in the top flight.
Aleksandar Mitrović is the first player to score 43 goals in a single season of second-tier English football since the Premier League was formed.— Squawka (@Squawka) May 2, 2022
In 43 games. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/h99k8eFTOM
Can Mitrovic Perform?
The primary problem is Mitrovic, which is a strange thing to say about a striker that scored 43 goals last season, a record in the Championship. However, the 27-year-old has not been able to raise the level of his form for the top flight, whether he has been with Fulham or previously with Newcastle United. He has consequently been on three sides that have been relegated from the Premier League due to a number of issues, although his own inefficiency in front of goal has been a factor.
In his first full season with the Cottagers, he did manage 11 goals in 37 appearances in the top flight, although it was not enough to save them from the drop. His goals propelled them back into the Premier League, notching 26 in the second tier, but then failed to fire the season after, with three goals in 27 matches in the 2020/21 season. The 27-year-old is in the prime of his career, so it might be the case of third time lucky with Fulham, but doubts remain whether he can produce at the top level.
⬇️ And that is that. Fulham are the third and final team relegated from the Premier League this season, joining West Brom and Sheffield United down in the Championship for 2021/22 #FULBUR pic.twitter.com/AkYh79UWjZ— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 10, 2021
The Cottagers appeared to learn lessons from their relegation in the 2018/19 season when they returned to the top flight in the 2020/21 term. Fulham conceded 81 goals in their first foray back, but were a lot better in their second effort, shipping a respectable 53 from their 38 games, which was better than seven other sides in the league. The problem was the number goals scored was among the worst in the top flight – only Sheffield United scored fewer than their 27. The Premier League is one of the most unforgiving divisions in professional sports and any weakness is magnified and exploited.
Silva has a challenge on his hands to provide the right balance. He cannot afford to be overly defensive, but at the same time he cannot allow Fulham to fall back to the standards of the 2018/19 season. The Portuguese was criticised at Everton for his inconsistencies, which resulted in his dismissal in December 2019. He was reinvigorated last term at Craven Cottage, but he now faces the biggest challenge of his career, to stabilise a yo-yo club.