Are things brighter than they were last time we stared into the Premier League abyss?
One month into his caretaker role of Fulham, Scott Parker saw his side relegated from the Premier League in April 2019.
Two years on, we’ve not only bounced back into the top flight at the first time of asking, but have made a much better fist of hanging tough in the dogfight down at the wrong end of the table. Not bad for a “novice” still learning how to be a manager.
Our recent victory over reigning Premier League champions Liverpool at Anfield, however beset by defensive injuries Jurgen Klopp is, was an obvious highlight for Parker. It was the kind of result that can give him and the players belief that they can stay up this time around.
The current crop at Craven Cottage have done remarkably well when you consider that Mitrovic hasn’t been fully fit for much of this season due to injury and illness. He scored 11 times in our last Premier League campaign and hit 26 during the regular Championship season that ended in promotion back via the play-offs.
Mitrovic – usually our clear focal point that occupies defenders – has been a miss, and this perhaps explains why we have fewer goals than both Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United. However, the secret behind our success surely lies behind the fact we have also conceded fewer than the Seagulls, Magpies and even Burnley.
In fact, despite shipping three at Villa Park on Easter Sunday, we’ve conceded the fewest goals out of the bottom seven, with 41 – level with our next opponents, Wolves. A run of five clean sheets in seven matches before we entertained Manchester City included wins to nil at both Anfield and Goodison Park too.
We were unsurprisingly fancied for the drop in pre-season, football tips today say we may defy relegation odds of 17/10 with 888Sport and survive. And now with relegation rivals missing key players on the treatment table, things look more promising.
Newcastle notably have been without attacking trio Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron in recent matches. That misfortune has taken 15 Premier League goals out of Steve Bruce’s side, but there is still time for them to be back for the final day of the season when Fulham host the Magpies at Craven Cottage.
A loss in that game could be terminal for either side, but Parker will want to try and secure safety beforehand. Prior to that is another big game at home to Burnley in our fourth to last fixture of the Premier League campaign.
The Fulham of today looks much better equipped to survive than the side of two years ago. There were lots of changes in both playing personnel and the dugout during that campaign. The Khans have kept faith with Parker, however, and hopefully that will pay off this time.