Fulham are back in the Premier League and their US owner, Shahid Khan, has discussed his plan for the Cottagers being back in the big-time.
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Due to travel restrictions American billionaire Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL, wasn’t present in the UK for Fulham’s 2-1 Championship playoff final win against Brentford earlier this week.
However, he released an open letter on Fulham’s website outlining his delight, as well as the plan for transfers and how the west London club will look for the 2020-21 season.
“Be assured that we will be a team, in its truest sense, moving forward,” Khan said. “We will be unafraid to improve and add pieces to our lineup, but not at the expense of the spirit and soul of a squad that bled, battled and sacrificed to return Fulham to the Premier League. Building a squad can be a tricky proposition for a newly promoted club, and that is especially true this year with the start of the season already nearly upon us. Turnover in football is inevitable. But, this club has Premier League experience and our players, as well as our young and promising head coach, love Fulham Football Club. There is a lot to like in this team today, and just as much to like in our future.”
That seems like Khan will not be sanctioning big-money transfers like he did two summers ago when Fulham were promoted to the Premier League. His son, Tony, oversaw a huge squad overhaul as the Cottagers reportedly spent close to $150 million on new players.
Fulham brought in 15 new players (nine permanently and six on loan) ahead of the 2018-19 season and gutted their promotion-winning team. They were relegated after having three managers in charge during the campaign, as Scott Parker became the caretaker head coach for the final few months and then took over permanently and led them to promotion straight back to the Premier League in his first full season as a manager.
It’s safe to say Fulham will do things a little differently this time around and add a few key players here and there, while try make the loan deals for Harrison Reed and maybe Harry Arter permanent ones. The main area they need to strengthen is in defense and if they can do that, they will be much better equipped to take on the Premier League than they were in 2018-19.
As for possible funds to spend this time around: Remember, Craven Cottage is currently being renovated and it will be spectacular when finished, but given the money spent to do that and the financial uncertainty around the game right now, very few clubs will be splashing huge sums of cash this summer. Fulham are better off adding extra quality where they can to a stable, committed squad of players, instead of wholesale changes.
Given the shorter turnaround time between winning promotion and kicking off in the Premier League, staying in the top-flight will be even tougher than last time. But ahead of the 2018-19 season you had a ‘this big spending could go one of two ways’ feeling about Fulham. Now, it is more predictable. They will likely be competitive and it is easy to see them staying up, although a top 10 push would probably be out of the question.
It will be fun to see if Fulham have learned from their last spell in the Premier League and this message from their owner seems like they have.