Can Fulham sustain a promotion charge?

It’s fair to say that Fulham didn’t do themselves justice on their return to the Premier League last season. A miserable campaign saw just seven wins, 26 points, and a 19th place finish as the Cottagers dropped straight back down to the Championship.

This season, though, Fulham have dusted themselves off and are doing well in the Championship. They currently sit in fourth place after beating west London rivals QPR at Craven Cottage, five points off the automatic promotion spots. They are one of the favourites for promotion in Championship betting odds.

Bossing things

Even towards the end of last season, there were signs that Scott Parker was beginning to have a positive effect on his team. That upturn in spirits around the club has continued in this campaign, with Parker looking more and more comfortable in his managerial role.

Parker played for Fulham for four seasons between 2013 and 2017, so he knows what it means to wear the shirt and understands that fans expect the club to be playing top-flight football. He was a popular figure during his playing days at the club, which means he enjoys a similar affinity with the supporters as their manager.

He has been realistic about Fulham’s chances and understands that there will be difficulties in such a competitive division. “If we had a magic wand and could just click our fingers and get success, life would be easy,” he said. I realise there are going to be some bumps this year because we cannot go from where we were last year to all of a sudden being unreal. We want to take quick steps but we understand there is a process.”

Forward firepower

One of the main reasons Fulham have enjoyed success this season is the presence of Aleksandar Mitrović up front. The Serbian is top of the Championship scoring charts with 12 goals, continuing the good form he’s shown throughout his time at the club.

Mitrović is the perfect striker for the Championship. He possesses a bullish quality that makes him a nightmare for defenders to deal with. Combined with his instinctive finishing ability, these attributes give the Serbian international the potential to create goals out of nothing.

Fulham fans will also be pleased to see Aboubakar Kamara return to form. Kamara came into the side for the QPR match as Mitrović was suspended, and scored a brace to secure victory. Kamara and Mitrović made headlines last season after fighting over who should take a penalty, but if the pair could establish a partnership up front then Fulham would have attacking firepower unmatched in the rest of the division.

Experienced heads

As well as dangerous attacking options, Fulham have a core group of players who have the experience of winning promotion through the playoffs in 2017-18. The likes of captain Tom Cairney, Denis Odoi, Stefan Johansen and Tim Ream have been there and done it as far as Championship promotion is concerned.

This could make all the difference towards the end of the season. If Fulham make the playoffs, those players will know what it takes to get over the line. That experience will have a positive effect on the whole squad and will be key if the Championship table remains as tight as it is currently.

Fulham have all the tools required to mount a serious promotion push, but as Parker alluded to, the road to Championship success is never straightforward. The early signs are strong, and Fulham have a good blend of youth and experience in the side that could make all the difference at the end of the season.