Will the Cottagers be able to bounce straight back?…
Having come close on a couple of occasions since they were promoted over a decade ago the 2013-14 season was the one that finally saw Fulham drop out of the Premierleague. It was a disappointing campaign from start to finish that exposed the lack of football knowledge in the owners of the club. It had been evident for the past couple of seasons that Fulham’s squad was aging. However manager Martin Jol did not address the problem over the summer and the signs of a difficult season were there for all to see. They started the season ok, but six straight defeats during November saw Jol sacked as manager and the team marooned in the bottom three. The new coaching team lead by Rene Meulensteen, his first managers job, did little to improve the situation, despite winning three games in his short tenure. He was removed in February following a 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool. Experienced German manager Felix Magath was thrown in to save the situation with 12 games to go but he could do nothing to reverse the situation and the club were relegated finally finishing in 19th. Their home form at Craven Cottage which had been the backbone of all their recent success deserted them and the team looked older than ever.
Although he has never worked in English football Felix Magath is an extremely experienced coach having worked in a number of situations during his 19-year managerial career in Germany, including managing Bayern Munich between 2004-2007. Many expected that Magath would walk away from the Fulham job once relegation last season had been confirmed but instead it was announced that he was staying to try and return the club to the Premiership at the first opportunity. His experience will be pivotal in Fulham’s promotion bid.
In: Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets), Tim Hoogland (Schalke 04), Kay Voser (FC Basel), Ross McCormack (Leeds Utd), Adil Chihi (FC Cologne), Thomas Eisfeld (Arsenal), Nikolay Bodurov (Litex Lovech)
Loans In: Konstantinos Stafylidis (Bayer Leverkusen)
Out: Steve Sidwell (Stoke City), Damien Duff (Melbourne City), Sascha Reither (SC Freiburg), Pajtim Kasami (Olympiakos), Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa), David Stockdale (Brighton), Ashkan Dejagah (Al-Arabi), Brede Hangeland (Crystal Palace), Matthew Briggs (Millwall), John Arne Riise, Jonny Heitinga (Released)
Whilst Fulham will be able to count of the experience of manager Felix Magath the Championship will still be alien to most of the squad. Having been established in the Premiership for so long they have very few players with experience of second tier football. The majority of their summer signings have also come from abroad. In what is likely to be a more competitive promotion race than ever, any ground lost while players are bedding in could prove costly come the end of season shake up.