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Why this summer is so important – and exciting – for Fulham

Written by Dan Cooke on 13th May 2024

Marco Silva clapping fans at Craven Cottage.
Marco Silva. Copyright Adam Farquharson.

I write this while overlooking the Ionian Sea from a sun lounger. I’m thousands of miles from Craven Cottage and to be honest, that makes me fairly happy; I’m ready for this season to be over.

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed it. There have been some wonderful moments, but this dirge-like procession to the finish line does test your resolve. We’re likely going to finish 14th, despite being five points off seventh in mid-March, which feels painfully underwhelming. We’re all guilty of overreacting, and this season we quickly jumped from “oh God, we might get relegated” to “renew the passport, we’re going on a European tour”, and ultimately we’ve ended up slap bang in the middle of those two things – the average position of our fickle opinions.

My coping mechanism for lulls in my love for Fulham is always to look forward. I’m usually a perennial pessimist, but not when it comes to this era of the Whites. I spent 20 minutes of my holiday watching Marco Silva chat to Steve Sidwell and it made me think how lucky we really are. So many teams seem to be in crisis when it comes to identity: Chelsea, Burnley, West Ham, Palace before Glasner arrived. Not this Fulham side, and that’s all thanks to Marco. I love his footballing philosophy, and I appreciate the desire to play entertaining, fast-moving football, and while players come and go, the constant presence of Silva is how I believe we best position ourselves for success.

I get the feeling that this summer will bring a fair amount of turnover. There are players out of contract who seem likely to leave, there are also stalwarts who may need to step aside for us to grow. With this comes an associated risk; waving goodbye to known quantities with the hope of a replacement that will raise the ceiling of our potential. It sounds simple, but we all know it isn’t. However, it’s definitely exciting.

A summer of rumours, all building up to the first few weeks of the season where we get to see a shiny new winger tasked with terrorising full-backs, or a fresh centre-back who is not gaff-prone and provides a sense of defensive security. Yes, there’s comfort in the known reliability of a Bobby De Cordova-Reid, but there’s a tantalising thrill in the emergence of an unknown. Have we bought another Anthony Knockaert, or will they be the player that drives us into Europe? We don’t know, and that’s fun.

We’re also likely to see Jay Stansfield get a deserved chance, and while he’s not technically one of our own, it still feels the same as a Sessegnon or Carvalho. Stories like his are the best thing about football, and I can’t wait to see him ruthlessly bury chances in the Premier League.

Under anyone else’s stewardship a summer that signalled such upheaval would be concerning. “Transition years” have been the death knell of Premier League sides like Fulham, but those teams didn’t have Marco Silva. A man with a defined philosophy who knows exactly how he wants to play football, and which players he needs to execute his vision. With him at the helm, our transfer business has become more refined, less scatter-gun, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’ll be sad to see some of the old guard move to pastures new, but this summer could set up the second era of Silva’s Fulham. These first three years have been exceptional progress, the coming years could be even more special.

I will be in that away end at Luton on Sunday, but I don’t care what happens. I have grown apathetic towards the Fulham that’s won one of their last eight. But next season’s Fulham? I love them with all of my heart.

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