Promoted teams in profile: Fulham


Our look at this season’s three Premier League newcomers begins with the champions of the Championship, Fulham.

The Londoners secured promotion to the top flight for the third time in five years, but this time without the need for the nerve-shredding play-offs.

Instead Marco Silva’s side hit the summit in November and never looked back, racking up an astonishing 106 league goals – the most in England – en route back to the big time.

Nearly half of the century came from talismanic striker Aleksandar Mitrović, who contributed a record-breaking 43-goal haul, but must now deliver in the Premier League if Fulham are to buck their recent trend of yo-yoing between the top two divisions.

Such was the Cottagers’ prolific output, they became the first English team since Chester City in 1933 to score at least six goals in three consecutive matches.

It was fitting that the title was secured with a third 7-0 win of the season, this time over Luton who themselves made the play-offs, underlining Fulham’s dominance.

Now with his fourth English club, Silva has transformed Fulham into a goalscoring machine who will not sit back in pursuit of survival.

The Portuguese enjoyed a 15-year career as a player in his homeland, retiring in 2011. A reliable defender, Silva did grace the top flight but played most of his football in the second and third divisions.

Immediately after hanging up his boots, he was appointed Director of Football at Estoril, the last club he played for, but soon transitioned into management.

An instant success, he led Estoril back to the Primeira Liga as champions after a seven-year absence, before taking the club into Europe for the first time.

He later won the Portuguese Cup with Sporting and the Greek league title with Olympiakos, where he achieved a run of 17 consecutive wins in domestic football.

His first job in the Premier League was with Hull, where he made an impressive impact but was unable to prevent relegation, before making a flying start to the following campaign with Watford.

Most recently in the top flight with Everton, Silva led the Toffees to an eighth-place finish in his only full season but was dismissed in December 2019 with the team in the relegation zone.

He was out of football for 18 months before dropping down to the Championship to kick-start his career in west London last summer.

Unsurprisingly crowned EFL Player of the Year, Mitrović equalled the record for most goals scored in a Championship season (31) with 16 games still to play.

Another dozen goals took his final tally to 43, breaking the record for the highest-scoring English league campaign in its current 46-game format.

Although he is also prolific at international level, the Serb’s doubters will point to his relatively modest return in the Premier League, with 81 of his 95 Fulham goals coming in the Championship.

The former Newcastle striker, who made his name in Belgium with Anderlecht, must produce his best form to give Fulham some much-needed stability at the top table.

A return of 46 international goals, a Serbian record, is proof of his credentials at the highest level, with that tally including a last-minute winner away to Portugal, securing his country’s qualification for the World Cup in Qatar.

-Saints Academy graduate Harrison Reed has twice won promotion with Fulham – once as a loan player in 2019/20, before last season’s triumph, in which he was a regular starter in midfield.

-Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga joined Fulham from Tottenham last summer and made 15 appearances in all competitions, though he did lose his place to Slovakian stopper Marek Rodák in the autumn.

-Mario Lemina spent Fulham’s last Premier League season, 2020/21, on loan from Saints, but was unable to prevent relegation before he was sold to Nice in France.

-Chris Baird, the youngest member of Saints’ starting line-up in the 2003 FA Cup final against Arsenal, left for Fulham four years later, where he played in the Europa League final in 2010.

-Three other Saints who also featured in that final, Antti Niemi, Wayne Bridge and Fabrice Fernandes, also had spells at Craven Cottage.

Played: 67

Saints wins: 28

Draws: 22

Fulham wins: 19

May 2021: Saints 3-1 Fulham

Dec 2020: Fulham 0-0 Saints

Aug 2019: Fulham 0-1 Saints

Feb 2019: Saints 2-0 Fulham

Nov 2018: Fulham 3-2 Saints