Fulham haven’t enjoyed the best of starts in the 2020/21 Premier League season. Although they’ve significantly improved their squad during their summer break, picking up points seems to be a real issue.
It’s early days, but Fulham fans are already bracing for relegation, back to the Championship for a third time in 4 seasons. It puts them in a strange position, knowing they’re too good for the second tier of English Fotball, but fail to survive in the Premier League.
Fulham Recruitment Policy
One of the reasons that Fulham failed to stay in the Premier League during the 2018/19 campaign was their recruitment policy. They spent enough money, but a failure to integrate key players into their squad meant that it was ultimately a failure. £100 million later & Fulham had near enough the same squad that Escaped the Championship.
There were some successes, such as Aleksandar Mitrovic & Joe Bryan. These players have really kicked on and shown their worth. However, over-expenditure on players such as Jean Michaell-Seri & Alfie Mawson proved to be poor signings.
Zambo Anguissa was also purchased for £20 million, but was loaned out to Villarreal as rumours surfaced that he didn’t want to play in the Sky Bet Championship. He impressed in La Liga & has now returned to Fulham. The jury is out on him & he could shine.
Now it’s time to look at their signings since their re-introduction to the Premier League. I think it’s safe to say that they’ve learnt from their mistakes. They have spent considerably less money, streamlined their squad to some extent & their arrivals have strengthened the starting eleven.
Anthony Knockaert arrived for just over £10 million & will provide sufficient experience. Harrison Reed was also recruited for just over £5 million, which looks like a bargain compared to their transfer activity 2 seasons ago. Fulham have also used the loan market very effectively, adding Ola Aina, Mario Lemina, Ademola Lookman & Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Some of the above weren’t added until the deadline day, which means that they’ve not really had the chance to integrate or build chemistry with their team-mates. They will need to start kicking on though, as they need to find some way of picking up points.
With 1 point from their opening 6 games, it’s well of the pace for a team that should be surviving. The usual point requirement for survival is 38 points, although Aston Villa managed to survive with 35 points in 2019/20 & Brighton finished 17th with 36 points the year before.
The real problem for Fulham, is that teams such as Aston Villa have really hit the ground running, sat in third place with 12 points. Leeds United have also notched 10 points, which leaves Fulham’s single point looking somewhat disappointing.
What could prove to be a saving grace for Fulham, is that they aren’t the only club under-performing. Burnley & Sheffield United also have a single point & West Bromwich Albion have a total of just two points. It could well be that these are the four clubs battling for that 17th position in the Premier League. It’s early days, though… Man Utd are in 15th place.
You would expect this Fulham squad to beat their 26 point total from 2018-19 season, but at the current rate of 1 point per 6 games they would total around 8 points. I can’t see this happening, but Fulham haven’t played their hardest games yet.
Fulham Fixtures & Results
In terms of the big six, Fulham have only played Arsenal so far, losing 3-0 on the opening weekend. They’ve also played Leeds United, Aston Villa, Wolves, Sheffield United & Crystal Palace. Their only point was against a struggling Sheffield United side.
Their performances have definitely picked up since the transfer window closed, they appear to have improved defensively. They’ve started to concede less, going from 4 goals against Leeds, 3 against Villa, to only conceding 1 against both Wolves and Sheffield United.
Fulham need points & pretty fast too. However, two wins can change their fortunes, putting them above Man Utd and into 15th place. They should be motivated by their run of fixtures, knowing that they have the potential to grab points.
They are playing West Brom, West Ham in their next two games. Whilst the Hammers are in-form, Fulham can get points against the Baggies. They need to get points.
After this, things get a little more difficult, Everton, Leicester, Manchester City & Liverpool await them. If they can nick a point or two from these games, that would be a huge achievement.
We hope that Scott Parker can get a tune out of his team, as he’s trying to build something special at Craven Cottage. It’s incredibly difficult to build a strong team when you get relegated, as other clubs tend to bid for your best players.