Mark Schwarzer

Season Preview: Fulham’s offseason promises much

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Premier League titles: 0 (Promoted last season)

FA Cups: 0

League Cups: 0

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Once the team of Clint Dempsey, Brede Hangeland, Mark Schwarzer, and a 2010 Europa League Final, the Cottagers were relegated in 2014 after a comical season saw Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen, and Felix “Cheese Heals All” Magath run the team into the ground. After two seasons of flirting with a second relegation, Fulham found new life under Slavisa Jokanovic.

Jokanovic led Fulham to a playoff loss and a playoff win in his two full seasons in charge, and now gets a loaded Craven Cottage in both excitement and potential. Jean Michael Seri was an absolute coup — even at a record price tag — and Alfie Mawson, Andre Schurrle, and Aleksandar Mitrovic are household names for anyone whose paid minor attention to English soccer.

How high can it rise? How low can it fall?

Even if Fulham fails to build momentum, don’t be surprised if it puts together a final half-dozen matches to climb higher than expected: The Cottagers finish with Watford, Everton, Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Wolves, and Newcastle United.


Fulham will finish top-half because… They’ve got great talent, motivation, and spirit under Jokanovic. How quickly can they come together? Preseason hasn’t been kind to the Cottagers, but home tilts with Palace and Burnley inside their first three matches provide a chance to escape August with a foothold in the top half (A visit to Spurs the second Saturday might be kind to them given Tottenham’s heavy World Cup schedule).

Fulham will be relegated because… If the club cannot adapt quickly, it might find itself in mid-November with a five-match run of Liverpool away, Saints home, Chelsea away, Leicester home, Manchester United away. That’s not to say Fulham doesn’t have the group to navigate that run, but bad things can happen to newly-promoted teams.

Best possible XI:

Bettinelli

Christie — Ream — Mawson — Odoi

Seri — Cairney (c) — Johansen

Schurrle — Mitrovic — Sessegnon

Transfers In: Schurrle (loan), Mitrovic ($23 million), Mawson (#19.5 million), Seri ($35 million), Maxime Le Marchand ($4.5 million), Fabri ($7 million).

Transfers Out: David Button ($5 million), Ryan Fredericks (free)

Ranking their offseason: A+

Look above at who came in, and who came out; Nothing more needs to be said. Fulham killed it (and re-upped USMNT center back and club mainstay Tim Ream for two years as well).

Star player: Jean Michael Seri — A clinical passer with an eye for the final ball, the 27-year-old Ivorian was wanted by any number of strong European clubs. Fulham won his signature, though he’s never been tested at a week-in, week-out level like the Premier League. Should he fail, we’ll be writing “Star player: Aleksandar Mitrovic” or “Star player: Andre Schurrle” sooner rather than later.

Coach’s Corner: Slavisa Jokanovic — The former Watford boss was finally trusted with the keys to the kingdom, and has responded in style. A player’s coach, it’s fair to predict a long leash for the 49-year-old former Chelsea and Tenerife midfielder.

PST Predicts: Fulham stays up, earning safety early before making a late season charge to set itself up for a promising 2019-20 season.

The 2 Robbies: Conte & Chelsea Outclass Mourinho & Man United

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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In today’s podcast, the Robbies examine Antonio Conte’s line up decisions against Man United (1:00) before being joined by Robbie M’s old Middlesbrough teammate Mark Schwarzer (5:00). The former Boro, Fulham, Chelsea and Leicester goalkeeper weighs in on the Chelsea-Man United match and offers his take on Jose Mourinho, who managed Mark at Chelsea. Plus, the guys analyze Man City’s win against Arsenal (23:40), discuss Arsene Wenger’s post-match comments on Raheem Sterling (26:50), cover Tottenham’s win against Palace (25:15) and react to all the craziness in Everton’s win against Watford (27:20).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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