LONDON — Fulham may be one of the best teams in history to be relegated from the Premier League, as the Cottagers are close to going down.
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Does that matter? Not really, but it may give some solace to American owner Shahid Khan, young manager Scott Parker and those making the calls at Craven Cottage.
After losing 2-0 at west London rivals Chelsea, an instant return to the Championship seems all-but secured as they are nine points from safety with 12 points to play for.
Here are five reasons why Fulham are going to be relegated from the Premier League.
Not enough quality in attack
Fulham have scored just 25 goal in 34 games this season, with only Sheffield United scoring less. Scoring goals has been a huge problem. Quite simply: Fulham have created enough big chances in each game which they haven’t taken. Bobby Decordova-Reid is their top PL scorer with five. Lookman has four. Mitrovic has two. That says it all.
Substance over style: balance not right
After leaking a lot of goals early in the season (10 in their first three games) Parker changed the balance of the team but he’s gone too much towards the defensive side of things. He had to in order to keep them in games but the overall balance just hasn’t been right. A 3-4-3 has hit their attack. Hard. They can’t create when they suddenly need to late on after being in a defensive mindset for so long during games.
Too late to make moves in summer window
Fulham’s recruitment team got it close to spot on, but it was too late. The financial impact and uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic played its part as they were promoted in the playoffs and there was a short offseason, but Fulham were slow to act. Too slow. Joachim Andersen, Ademola Lookman and Ruben Loftus-Cheek arrived right at the end of the summer window, while Josh Maja arrived at the end of the January window. Even Alphonse Areola, Mario Lemina, Ola Aina, Kenny Tete and Tosin Adarabioyo arrived too late in the summer and Fulham won just two of their first 23 games this season. They’ve won three of their last 12 games, but it was too little too late. A lot of their loan signings will now move on this summer and Fulham will have to rebuild. They made the right signings but not soon enough.
The fall of Mitrovic
He has scored just two goals in the PL this season, a huge drop off from his 26 goals in the Championship last season. Fulham would have banked on him scoring at least 10-12 goals this season but with injuries and Parker preferring more mobile forwards, Mitrovic has played a very limited role. His lack of goals is a big reason for Fulham’s failure. Parker admitted as much in his post-game press conference after the loss at Chelsea.
Too many draws
An easy one, but Fulham haven’t gone for it enough. They have settled for a draw far too much, with 13 draws the second most in the PL this season. Too many draws was their main downfall as they played not to lose rather than go all-out for wins. Maybe that’s a manager realizing the limitations of his team or maybe it was a team that just wasn’t able to have that clinical edge when it really mattered. Parker and Fulham haven’t been awful but they haven’t quite been good enough. There’s no disgrace in that and you get the sense they will be back in the PL very soon.