The Premier League is finally back on the 11th August and with that in mind, we’ve done a season preview of every club and their chances for the upcoming season. Here, we’ve taken a look at Marco Silva’s Fulham.
Last season: 10th
Top Scorer: Aleksandar Mitrovic (14)
Transfers In: Raul Jimenez – Wolves (£5m), Chris Donnell – Perth City (undisclosed), Calvin Bassey – Ajax (£19.3m)
Transfers Out: Paulo Gazzaniga – Girona (free transfer), Shane Duffy – Norwich (free transfer), Joe Bryan – Millwall (free transfer), Neeskens Kebano – Al-Jazira (free transfer), Steven Sessegnon (released), Thorsteinn Antonsson – (released), Taye Ashby-Hammond – Stevenage (free transfer), Kieron Bowie – Northampton Town (loan), Ibane Bowat – TSV Hartberg (loan)
First game: Everton (A)
Having finally snapped their ‘yo-yo’ streak to finish in the top half of the Premier League, Marco Silva’s priority will be to ensure they can avoid relegation for a second consecutive campaign.
Predicting a similar finish to last season feels optimistic at the time of writing, given the uncertainty surrounding the futures of star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian, who are both heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabia. Marco Silva himself was offered a lucrative deal by Al-Ahli but the former Everton boss decided to turn it down in order to stay in south-west London, and he will be hoping his two key men follow suit.
Mitrovic’s goals powered the Cottagers to more than just safety last year – a 10th-placed finish for Fulham marked their best finish since they placed ninth in 2011/12. Fulham’s form while he served an eight-match ban through last spring demonstrated out how difficult he could be to replace. Raul Jimenez’s arrival from Wolves has brought in a centre-forward of proven Premier League class, however, the issue being that level of performance came before he sustained a cracked skull in November 2020.
Fulham do possess real quality within their ranks, though – in Joao Palhinha they had the best tackler in Europe’s top five leagues last season, while Bernd Leno was the second best keeper in the league in terms of goals prevented. The former is attracting interest from fellow Premier League sides, however, and Silva will be desperate to keep hold of him and build the rest of the team around his compatriot.
Andreas Pereira has proven himself to be a key cog in Silva’s system at Craven Cottage, after spending eight years at Manchester United. His arrival last summer was met with scepticism but the Brazilian has taken to life down south with unwavering confidence, chipping in with 10 goal contributions from 33 games last term.
Tim Ream, despite his age, enjoyed his best season in a Fulham shirt last term, but the Cottagers do need a long-term replacement for the 35-year-old, especially since Silva’s side conceded the joint-second highest amount of goals in the top 10.
Fulham’s objective for the new season is clear: maintain consistency and establish themselves in the top flight. However, the fact remains that Fulham are far from the finished article under Silva, and the Cottagers’ chances to challenge for a top-half finish are likely to be governed by what happens in the remaining transfer window – particularly the futures of Mitrovic and Willian.