Rhys’s Pieces: Back where we belong?

Rhys Daly 8th September 2020
© Nick ([email protected])

As Scott Parker’s Fulham squad continues to take shape with the arrivals of Antonee Robinson, Mario Lemina and Harrison Reed, Rhys Daly scrutinises how the Whites have performed in the Premier League since the 1992 rebrand – and where they stand in the all-time table.

By the time the 2020/21 Premier League season comes to an end in May, only 13 clubs would have spent more time in the top flight than Fulham since the division was rebranded back in 1992.

The Whites are about to take their place in the most watched league on the planet for a 15th occasion since winning the old Division 1 in 2001, having spent 31 consecutive years in the lower leagues.

Although the bookies expect Scott Parker’s side to return to the Championship immediately, the team spirit that helped them past favourites Brentford at Wembley could go a long way to securing safety.

Below is a short review of each top-flight Fulham season in recent memory, which might provide the squad inspiration ahead of the visit of Arsenal on September 12.

2001/02

Manager: Jean Tigana

League Position: 13th

Top Scorer: Barry Hayles & Louis Saha & Steed Malbranque – 8

W/D/L: 10/14/14

FA Cup: Semi-finals

League Cup: Fourth round

Fulham’s first season back in the top flight proved to be a very successful one under the guidance of Jean Tigana and watchful eye of Mohamed Al-Fayed.

The Whites would go on to climb as high as seventh before settling to a finish of 13th, having welcomed the likes of Edwin van Der Sar and Steed Malbranque the preceding summer.

Barry Hayles and Louis Saha adjusted well to the Premier League and managed eight goals apiece, and the club even managed to secure European qualification via the Intertoto Cup.

The likes of Alain Goma, Sylvain Legwinski, John Collins, Andy Melville and Steve Finnan proved to be key players under Tigana in season, which included a heartbreaking FA Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Chelsea at Villa Park.

2002/03

Manager: Jean Tigana followed by Chris Coleman

League Position: 14th

Top Scorer: Steed Malbranque – 6

W/D/L: 13/9/16

FA Cup: Fifth round

League Cup: Fourth round

UEFA Intertoto Cup: Winners

UEFA Cup: Third round

Fulham’s second season in the top flight proved to be slightly more turbulent, and Tigana would end up leaving his role before the final few games of the campaign.

Before that however, the club hit the ground running with four wins from the opening eight games, which were followed by notable victories over Tottenham and Liverpool.

The likes of Facundo Sava and Junichi Inamoto linked up with the club in the summer, and helped Fulham to victory in the Intertoto Cup and into the third round of the UEFA Cup.

In the league, Fulham finished 14th with 13 wins and nine draws, an improvement of four points from the previous season.

2003/04

Manager: Chris Coleman

League Position: 9th

Top Scorer: Louis Saha – 13

W/D/L: 14/10/14

FA Cup: Quarter-finals

League Cup: Second round

Former Fulham defender Chris Coleman would prove to be a fine appointment from Al-Fayed in what was the unenviable task of replacing the successful Tigana.

Coleman led the club to a ninth-placed finish in his first season as boss, during which Saha found his feet with an impressive 15 goals before joining Manchester United in January.

Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Moritz Volz and Collins John all joined during the campaign, and Fulham would once again improve on their previous finish by four points.

There were also a notable 3-1 win over United at Old Trafford, and another quarter-final appearance in the FA Cup.

2004/05

Manager: Chris Coleman

League Position: 13th

Top Scorer: Andy Cole – 12

W/D/L: 12/8/18

FA Cup: Fifth round

League Cup: Quarter-finals

Andy Cole would prove to be a major summer signing for Coleman in another solid outing in the top flight for Fulham.

The former Manchester United and Newcastle United striker managed 12 goals in the league as the replacement for Saha, as Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte continued to influence the side going forward.

In what has proved to be a memorable victory, Fulham beat Norwich City 6-0 on a final day in which the Canaries needed three points to avoid relegation.

Cole would go on to leave in the summer to join Manchester City, but that didn’t stop Fulham from improving the following year.

2005/06

Manager: Chris Coleman

League Position: 12th

Top Scorer: Collins John – 11

W/D/L: 14/6/18

FA Cup: Third round

League Cup: Third round

In what would prove to be Coleman’s final full season as Fulham manager, Collins John emerged as a key player with 11 league goals.

A difficult start did see the Whites drop into the bottom three after eight matches, but four wins from their last five helped a jump of four places into 12th.

There were also wins over both Liverpool and Chelsea, the latter of which being Fulham’s only win over their west London rivals since 1980.

A points tally of 48 was another solid return, but the season was tarnished by cup defeats at the hands of Lincoln City and West Bromwich Albion.

2006/07

Manager: Chris Coleman followed by Lawrie Sanchez

League Position: 16th

Top Scorer: Brian McBride – 9

W/D/L: 8/15/15

FA Cup: Fifth round

League Cup: Second round

Fulham struggled to reach their former heights in a season that included the sacking of Coleman and appointment of Lawrie Sanchez.

The goals of Brian McBride proved to be vital as the Whites stayed in the division by just one point, with the club also agreeing to the sale of club legend Boa Morte.

Jimmy Bullard, Clint Dempsey and Simon Davies were welcomed before Coleman left in April, and the last gasp survival saw Sanchez handed a three-year deal.

As well at Boa Morte, Legwinski and Malbranque also found new clubs in Ipswich and Tottenham, the latter making over 200 appearances for Fulham.

2007/08

Manager: Lawrie Sanchez followed by Roy Hodgson

League Position: 17th

Top Scorer: Clint Dempsey – 6

W/D/L: 8/12/18

FA Cup: Third round

League Cup: Third round

The tenure of Sanchez would prove to disastrous despite the decent arrivals of Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes and Paul Konchesky among others.

The Northern Irishman was sacked in December following a run of two wins in the opening 16 matches of the campaign.

Roy Hodgson would prove to be an inspired appointment, and he went on to guide the club to four wins in their last six matches in what was a truly memorable Great Escape.

From being 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go at Manchester City, Fulham won 3-2 thanks to Danny Murphy and a double from Diomansy Kamara – going on to win against both Birmingham and Portsmouth to stay up.

2008/09

Manager: Roy Hodgson

League Position: 7th

Top Scorer: Andy Johnson – 7

W/D/L: 14/11/13

FA Cup: Quarter-finals

League Cup: Third round

Fulham were well placed to climb up the Premier League table in 2008/09 thanks to the inspired work of Hodgson at the end of the previous campaign.

It would prove to be a record season for the club, which ended in a historic finish of seventh in the most competitive league on the planet.

Andy Johnson managed seven league goals as a solid defensive unit was formed between Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.

Notable wins were managed over Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City, with Fulham finishing above Spurs and City to qualify for the Europa League third qualifying round.

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2009/10

Manager: Roy Hodgson

League Position: 12th

Top Scorer: Bobby Zamora – 8

W/D/L: 12/10/16

FA Cup: Sixth round

League Cup: Third round

Europa League: Runners-up

Although Fulham secured another solid Premier League finish of 12th in 2009/10, it was to be the unlikely Europa League journey that stole the limelight.

Hodgson’s side won 11 of their 18 fixtures on the continent to reach the final against Atletico Madrid, coming up short after extra-time despite an inspired display.

Bobby Zamora managed eight goals in the league and 19 in all competitions, helping the Whites to 46 points and memorable wins over Liverpool and Manchester United.

Hodgson would go on to leave the club after being contacted by Liverpool, and his successor would not prove to be quite so likeable at Craven Cottage.

2010/11

Manager: Mark Hughes

League Position: 8th

Top Scorer: Clint Dempsey – 12

W/D/L: 11/16/11

FA Cup: Fifth round

League Cup: Third round

Clint Dempsey took on the role of star player under new manager Mark Hughes in 2010/11.

In a rather unusual start to the season Fulham drew six of their first seven matches either side of a win over Wolves.

Hughes’ side managed to improve during the final few months to climb up to eighth, their second ever highest finish in the top flight.

11 wins and 11 defeats were joined by 16 draws, which was more than any other side in the league that season – after which Hughes left the club and cited a lack of ambition, before being relegated with QPR.

The former Wales striker was labelled as a “strange man” and a “flop” by Al-Fayed, and the former City boss has since mentioned his time of leaving as a mistake.

2011/12

Manager: Martin Jol

League Position: 9th

Top Scorer: Clint Dempsey – 17

W/D/L: 14/10/14

FA Cup: Fourth round

League Cup: Third round

Europa League: Group stages

Al-Fayed finally got his hands on former Tottenham boss Martin Jol ahead of another solid season of results in 2011/12.

Dempsey smashed home 17 league goals as the Whites won 14 of their matches to finish ninth.

As well as a 6-0 demolition of QPR, which included a first Fulham Premier League hat-trick thanks to Andy Johnson – there was also another win over Arsenal and two over Liverpool.

In a disappointing return to Europe, Fulham were knocked out of the Europa League group stages thanks to a late draw against Odense in the final game of the round.

2012/13

Manager: Martin Jol

League Position: 12th

Top Scorer: Dimitar Berbatov – 15

W/D/L: 11/10/17

FA Cup: Fourth round

League Cup: Second round

Fulham went top of the table with a 5-0 win over Norwich in a fine start to another decent enough season under Jol, but a poor ending should have been a warning for the following year.

The Whites slipped from 10th to 15th after losing six games out of seven, but a final day win over Swansea helped a climb back up to 12th.

Dimitar Berbatov had a fine individual season with 15 goals, having been brought in to replace the void created by Dempsey and Mousa Dembele joining Spurs.

This season would prove to be the most recent solid Premier League season for Fulham, who would have three different managers in the following campaign.

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2013/14

Manager: Martin Jol followed by René Meulensteen followed by Felix Magath

League Position: 19th (relegated)

Top Scorer: Steve Sidwell – 7

W/D/L: 9/5/24

FA Cup: Fourth round

League Cup: Fourth round

Adel Taarabt, Darren Bent and Maarten Stekelenburg joined in the summer in positive deals for the club, and a narrow win over Sunderland on the opening day was a solid start.

That would prove to be one of only nine victories across a demoralising season, which saw Fulham drop out of the top flight after 13 seasons.

A period of one win across 10 games before the new year led to Jol being replaced by René Meulensteen, who subsequently lost his job to Felix Magath.

Fulham were put out of their misery by Stoke in a 4-1 defeat in May, which led a run of four seasons in the Championship.

2018/19

Manager: Slaviša Jokanović followed by Claudio Ranieri followed by Scott Parker

League Position: 19th (relegated)

Top Scorer: Aleksandar Mitrović – 11

W/D/L: 7/5/26

FA Cup: Third round

EFL Cup: Fourth round

Fulham went 23 games unbeaten until the final day of the Championship season before beating both Derby and Aston Villa in the play-offs to return to the Premier League.

A net spend of over £100m then followed as the Whites were backed to get close to the top half, but the new players failed to gel which led to the sacking of Slaviša Jokanović.

Claudio Ranieri was given time to turn those fortunes around, but he was also dismissed and replace by caretaker Scott Parker in February.

Fulham won only seven games across the season as they finished 19th with 26 points, and three of those wins came under Parker after relegation was confirmed away to Watford.

Fulham in the Premier League review:

Although there have been two disastrous seasons for Fulham in the Premier League, there has been plenty more to cheer about over the last 20 years.

The stats show that the Whites would be included in the all-time table, and another extend run above the Championship will follow from 2020/21.

Matches: 532

W/D/L: 157/141/234

Win percentage 30%

Place in all-time Premier League table: 17th