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Season Review: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton

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As the 2018/19 Premier League season has come to a close, it’s time to take a very brief look back at each club’s campaign and review how they did. First, we look back at the bottom five sides and work our way up the table.

Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were relegated to the Championship, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton both managed to stay up, barely. Each team took its own path to where they finished in the table, so here’s a look back at some of the journeys.

Huddersfield Town

Finishing position/points total: 20 / 16pts
High point
: Doing the double over Wolves.
Low point
: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool to cap a stretch of 8 losses.

Our opinion: They struggled to score all season, with just 22 goals in 38 league matches. Shut out in a whopping 19 Premier League matches, they never had the firepower to compete.
Star player
: Aaron Mooy
Most memorable goal
: Isaac Mbenza equalized on an assist from goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to draw Manchester United on the penultimate day of the season.


Manager grade: David Wagner: C- / Jan Siewert: F
Hopes for next season
: Huddersfield needs to stabilize and regroup next season, and a top-10 Championship finish should be the target, building towards a promotion campaign the following year. Siewert wasn’t able to do anything of note in charge during the second half of the Premier League season, and the jury is still out on if he’s the right man to lead them through the Championship.

Fulham

Finishing position/points total: 19 / 26pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight under Scott Parker.
Low point
: A 4-1 loss to Watford to mark 9 straight.

Our opinion: An absolutely woeful defense doomed what was an otherwise entertaining attacking club. With a change of manager came a change of style, but nothing improved at the back. Fulham needs to sort out its back line for next season or a quick return to the Premier League can be thrown out the window.
Star player
: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Most memorable goal
: Jean-Michael Seri blasted an absolute stunner against Burnley early in the season. Andre Schurrle also victimized Burnley with a glorious volley as well.


Manager grade: Slavisa Jokanovic: D- / Claudio Ranieri: F / Scott Parker: C+
Hopes for next season
: The club did well to secure a permanent manager so quickly so they can get to work strengthening the squad for a promotion campaign to come straight back up. The priority this offseason will be looking to secure assets like Mitrovic, Jean-Michael Seri, and Ryan Sessegnon while looking to improve the defense.

Cardiff City

Finishing position/points total: 18 / 34pts
High point
: Beating Manchester United on the last day of the season.
Low point
: Failing to score in 4 straight, confirming relegation.

Our opinion: A club that many through would finish bottom of the league, or close to it, gave it a real fight and came close to staving off relegation a few times. The season clearly wore on Neil Warnock, who said there isn’t “a cat’s chance in hell” he ever manages in the Premier League again.
Star player
: Victor Camarasa
Most memorable goal
: Junior Hoilett‘s wonderful curler to beat Wolves in November pulled the club out of the relegation zone for the time being, but it can’t beat Camarasa’s unbelievable strike to beat Leicester City in stoppage time.


Manager grade: Neil Warnock: C
Hopes for next season
: They will be a real challenger for promotion in the Championship and should do well if they can improve the playmaking abilities up front.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Finishing position/points total: 17 / 36pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight in October, critical to staying up.
Low point
: 8 straight without a win Jan-Feb in a relegation battle.

Our opinion: Brighton was one of the most fun teams this season, with a combination of suffocating defense and an attack that could crop up at any time against any club. While they often fired blanks, when they came alive it was exciting and enjoyable. Still, the attack was too inconsistent and they’ll want to make smart improvements.
Star player
: Shane Duffy
Most memorable goal
: Glenn Murray‘s winner against Wolves capped off a critical 3-game winning streak and ultimately proved vital in keeping the club alive.


Manager grade: Chris Hughton: C-
Hopes for next season
: Sacking Chris Hughton, the man who pulled the club out of the muck and brought them to the promised land, is a bold decision. This is a team with good assets and a solid base, and they should be able to stay up again next season with the right leader.

Southampton

Finishing position/points total: 16 / 39pts
High point
: Beating Arsenal 3-2 in December.
Low point
: 6-1 loss to Man City as part of a 12-match winless run.

Our opinion: Southampton started off the season horribly and was a real candidate to go down until Ralph Hassenhuttl saved them. His management kept this team up and there’s real hope for the future with a young, scrappy squad that needs improvement.
Star player
: Nathan Redmond
Most memorable goal
: It wasn’t the best goal of the season (that would be the Redmond curler to finish off the campaign on Sunday?) but the most memorable is Charlie Austin‘s in the 85th minute to beat Arsenal and end their long unbeaten run. It sparked the turnaround for Southampton, marking their first league win in over three months and beginning a nine-match run where they picked up 15 points.


Manager grade: Mark Hughes: D- / Ralph Hassenhuttl: A-
Hopes for next season
: With Hassenhuttl in charge and improvements to the defense this summer, Southampton should be able to show more consistency next season. On their day, they’re capable of beating any team in the league and that should lead them to a belief in a top 10 finish. This team shouldn’t be battling for Premier League survival again.

Fulham hires Scott Parker as full-time head coach

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Fulham has taken its first step towards next season in the Championship by locking down a boss, hiring interim boss Scott Parker as full-time head coach, the club announced on Friday, signing a two-year deal.

Parker spent the final four years of his playing career at Fulham, making 128 appearances for the club before retiring in 2017 and joining the backroom staff. He remained part of the coaching staff through multiple managerial changes in the Premier League this season, finally being tabbed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in late February.

Under Parker’s guidance, Fulham finished the season strong despite being strapped with relegation. They lost their first five matches under Parker, but three of those came against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They then won three in a row against Everton, Bournemouth, and Cardiff City in mid-April despite having won just four matches all season previously.

“Scott was brave to accept a very difficult challenge in February when appointed as our Caretaker Manager,” said club chairman Shahid Khan in the official team announcement . “Since that time, day by day, whether in training or on matchday, we’ve undeniably become a better football club. Scott will now have another challenge to face, and that is to return Fulham to the Premier League. I fully believe Scott is more than up to the task.”

The 38-year-old former Fulham captain feels he is ready for his first managerial gig, having previously played nearly 600 career matches for Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham.

“Now, the challenge lies with me to move things forward,” said Parker in the official team release. “Ultimately, success comes from a culture and a desire – that needs to be our foundation. We’ll drive a culture here that our fans will recognize.”

A big focus for Parker is the atmosphere in the dressing room, which Parker believes he can influence as a recent player. “I’ve got 20 years of playing experience and 20 years of being in changing rooms,” Parker said. “I want to use that experience to help the club be successful and move things forward.”

The job ahead is a tough one moving forward given the Fulham squad is in a state of horrible flux. Young winger Ryan Sessegnon is out of contract next summer and therefore likely to be sold unless he changes course and signs and extension with the club. Striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and midfielder Jean-Michel Seri could also be out the door given their level of talent, potentially avoiding dropping down a league with the club. Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Havard Nordveit, Andre Schurrle, and Luciano Vietto are all loanees scheduled to return to parent clubs after the season ends. Denis Odoi, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskins Kebano are all out of contract this summer and could depart as well.

Fulham’s Odoi suffers scary head injury

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Fulham’s Denis Odoi was involved in a scary incident against Cardiff City on Saturday.

The Belgian defender was kicked in the face by his own teammate, Maxime Le Marchand, and appeared to be immediately knocked out before regaining consciousness.

Odoi, 30, received treatment for close to 10 minutes on the pitch, receiving oxygen and being looked after my multiple members of the medical staff before he was carried off on a stretcher.

Fulham’s medical staff had to hold Odoi down when he first regained consciousness as he seemed dazed, and it seems likely that the Premier League’s concussion protocol will have been used.

Speaking after the 1-0 win for Fulham, his manager Scott Parker gave the following update.

“Denis is OK, I have just seen him, it was a big head injury,” Parker said. “He was out of it for a few seconds which was concerning, but he is fine and will be OK.”

Premier League Preview: Fulham v. Cardiff City

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  • Bluebirds need points to keep PL status alive
  • Cardiff won 4-2 on Oct. 20
  • All-time series tied 25-12-25

Cardiff City’s hopes of a surprising run to Premier League safety could take a huge step on Saturday against Fulham at Craven Cottage (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Bluebirds would pull level on points with 17th place Brighton and Hove Albion with a Saturday morning win, a dollop of pressure added to the Seagulls’ minds before the marquee match-up with Newcastle United at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Fulham has won two-straight, toppling Everton and Bournemouth in performances fueled in part by Ryan Babel and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Babel has scored four goals and three assists during his half-season in London.

Cardiff has scored just three goals in its last five matches, three of which were 2-0 losses.

What they’re saying

Fulham interim boss Scott Parker on keeping up form: “For me personally as a little nugget it would be pleasing to win three in a row, but ultimately for the football club and as a team, that’s what pleases us most. … I often say that the starting XI are the face of the football club, but behind the scenes there are a lot of people who work tremendously hard up to that point on a Saturday to try and get three points so that they come in Monday morning with a smile on their face.”

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock on the prolonged relegation battle“In the situation we’ve been in from day one we knew it was going to be difficult,  but we’ve overcome all the doom and gloom and all the predictions and we’ve enjoyed it. We’ve still got our biggest challenge ahead and it’s an opportunity for the lads to put their names into the history books.”

Prediction

Cardiff keeps hope alive, but not with a three-point boost. Fulham finds the net, too, in a 1-1 draw.

Ryan Babel leaving relegated Fulham at end of season

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Ryan Babel has been a bright spot for Fulham since joining in January, returning to the Premier League eight years after departing and displaying positive two-way contributions for the Whites despite their confirmed relegation to the Championship.

The 32-year-old now says he will leave the club at the end of the season, with the hope of staying in the English top flight. While Babel says he’s enjoyed his time at Fulham and is grateful for the opportunity for Premier League redemption, his hope of making the Euro 2020 squad with the Netherlands will see him look to remain at the highest level.

“I am at the stage where I have to make the right decision for my family and the future,” Babel told reporters. “I have enjoyed playing back in the Premier League and I need to play top-flight football next season to be playing at the the Euros if we qualify. I still think I have two or three years ahead of me and of course if I have the opportunity to stay in the Premier League, that would great. Staying in the Premier League would be my first choice.”

Since joining Fulham in January on a short six-month contract, Babel has been a regular in the Whites starting lineup, starting all 13 league games and contributing four goals and three assists, including three goals over the last five matches. He scored a goal and assisted another in the surprise win over Everton two outings ago and is enjoying playing under interim manager Scott Parker.

“I think the intensity of being a team without the ball has changed,” Babel said of the play under the new boss. “Fulham have been playing pretty well all season with the ball but without the ball was the problem. We were conceding, in my opinion, easy goals, and now it is two clean sheets so something has improved.”

One natural link for Babel to stay in the Premier League could be Newcastle. Current boss Rafa Benitez signed the Dutchman back in 2007 at Liverpool, and while there is speculation about Benitez’s immediate future at the club, should he stay there could be interest, with English tabloid The Daily Star already making that connection.

Babel will likely be one of many changes at Fulham this coming summer, with young Ryan Sessegnon also likely to leave the club as the Whites’ front office looks to contend with the fallout from last summer’s failed transfer market where the club spent over $100 million mostly on flops.