Having finally snapped their yo-yo streak to finish in the top half of the Premier League, Marco Silva’s priority will be to ensure they can avoid relegation for a second successive season.
Stadium: Craven Cottage
Manager: Marco Silva
Captain: Tim Ream
Top league scorer last season: Aleksandar Mitrovic – 14
Last season’s position: 10th
So many expected the Cottagers to follow the trend of promotion followed be relegation as they had in each of their last five seasons, but a strong start to the season meant that relegation was never really on the cards.
Four successive wins after the World Cup – including a rare victory against rivals Chelsea – had Fulham fans wondering if they could be venturing back into Europe.
The mindless dismissal of Aleksandar Mitrovic against Manchester United in the FA Cup derailed the season somewhat, but the goal of survival had long been secured.
So much went right for Fulham last season, but the challenge will be trying to consolidate their progress.
In Joao Palhinha, they had the best tackler in Europe’s top five leagues, while Bernd Leno was the second best keeper in the league in terms of goals prevented and Mitrovic – despite his eight-game suspension – scored 14 goals.
Only one of them is guaranteed to be at Craven Cottage next season, and it’s hard to see Leno repeating last season’s heroics.
Mitrovic is reported to be unhappy at having a move to Saudi Arabia blocked and Palhinha is courting attention from a number of Premier League clubs.
Despite last season’s top-half finish, it could be a long campaign this time around.
The jury is still out somewhat on Marco Silva, despite the fact the Portuguese has managed in England quite consistently for six years.
After moving from Olympiacos, where he won the league with 28 wins and a draw from their 30 matches, Silva failed to keep Hull in the Premier League, staying in the top flight with a move to Watford.
He wasn’t the first manager to be hastily dismissed from Vicarage Road, despite having the Hornets 10th in the table when sacked in January, moving to Everton, where an impressive first season saw the Toffees finish eighth, but that was followed up by a poor start to his second season, slipping into the relegation zone after a 5-2 loss to Liverpool.
His highlight in England was undoubtedly his first season in West London. Admittedly, the tools at his disposal exceeded most of those around him, but Fulham would win the Championship, leaving a trail of sheer devastation in their wake, scoring seven goals three times, six goals twice, five goals twice and four goals four times.
An absolute revelation at the base of Fulham's midfield last season after transferring from Sporting Lisbon for £20m, Joao Palhinha has already attracted major transfer interest from the likes of Liverpool and West Ham.
A robust and tireless defensive midfielder, 28-year-old Palhinha finished last season as the player with the most most tackles and most duels won throughout the Premier League.
At 6ft 3in tall, Palhinha is a formidable figure in the middle of the park, and quickly became the heartbeat of a Fulham side who were able to finish in a commendable 10th place in the Premier League table following their promotion from the Championship.
Fulham boss Marco Silva will be desperate to keep hold of Palhinha ahead of the new campaign, and build the rest of the team around his compatriot.
Aged 26, this may be a make-or-break season for Harry Wilson. The former Liverpool academy graduate had impressive spells at Derby and Cardiff in the Championship, and he was sensational with Fulham, with 29 goal contributions across the season.
A knee injury meant Wilson had to wait two months to make his first Premier League start of the season, and he struggled to break into the side for much of the campaign.
But Wilson played a more prominent role towards the end of the season, given the opportunity to start each of Fulham’s last nine games, an opportunity he grabbed with both hands scoring twice and making four assists.
With incomings at Craven Cottage looking limited over the summer, it could be the perfect opportunity for Wilson to establish himself as a Premier League regular.
(4-2-3-1): Leno, Tete, Ream (c), Adarabioyo, Robinson, Palhinha, Reed, Pereira, De Cordova-Reid, Willian, Jimenez.
Fulham’s opening six Premier League fixtures are as follows:
|2022/23||10th (Premier League)|
|2020/21||18th (Premier League)|
|2018/19||19th (Premier League)|
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.