For the past several years, Fulham was deemed a ‘yoyo club,’ meaning that they achieve promotion to the Premier League but then sequentially get relegated back to the EFL Championship. Fulham achieved promotion to the Premier League in the 2019/2020 season, was relegated in the 2020/2021 season, and then was promoted in the 2021/2022 season. This process repeats itself, which is also seen at Norwich City. However, under manager Marco Silva, Fulham has been flying in the Premier League.
From the Championship to the top half of EPL
It is quite uncommon for a newly promoted club to succeed after achieving promotion, regardless of the league they are playing in. The expectation for most promoted clubs is to simply survive and not get relegated. Fulham is defying the odds, though, as they currently sit seventh in the Premier League with eleven wins this season. They are battling for a spot in Europe, which itself is impressive. This season, Fulham has managed a 2-2 draw on the opening day against Liverpool as well as a 2-1 home victory against Chelsea. They also drew against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge, 0-0. How exactly have Fulham found themselves, above the likes of Chelsea and West Ham, whilst being a newly promoted side?
Who is Marco Silva?
After being sacked from Everton in 2019, Marco Silva chose to sit back and wait for the right opportunity to manage again. Silva was appointed as the new manager for Fulham on July 1, 2021. His side won the Championship in the 2021/2022 season finishing the year on 90 points and with a goal differential of + 63, scoring 106 goals during the campaign. Marco Silva’s approach and tactics, along with some great business in the transfer window, has seen them have a strong return to the Premier League thus far. Although his winning percentage in the Premier League is only 36%, Silva is putting that number to rest as Fulham are enjoying a terrific season.
Embed from Getty Images
Transfers and Tactics
Marco Silva plays to his players strengths and deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation, in which he wants his side to be able to play out from the back and be comfortable with the ball. To be able to do this, Fulham brought in goalkeeper Bern Leno from Arsenal for a fee of €3.6 million, who has kept seven clean sheets this season.
In defense, Tim Ream and Issa Diop form a solid partnership. Ream has been at the club since 2015, and Diop joined from West Ham over the summer for €17.8 million. The fullbacks, Antonee Robinson and Kenny Tete, have proven to be versatile and reliable. This season, Tete has notched four assists, which is a bit ironic since Robinson typically gets up the pitch more than him.
Embed from Getty Images
The midfield duo features Joao Palhinha and Harrison Reed. Palhinha is seen as the defensive midfielder upon signing from Sporting CP over the summer for €20 million. While Palhinha does the dirty work defensively, Reed is seen as the roaming midfielder who helps out going forward as well as in defense. Reed has been at the club since 2020, after joining the club permanently after spending a year on loan from Southampton.
Up front, the Cottagers are led by their main man, Aleksander Mitrovic, who has been at the club since 2018. Mitrovic has become an icon in the Fulham shirt over the last few years, and this season he has scored eleven goals and provided two assists despite missing matches due to injury. In Mitrovic’s absence, Carlos Vinicius (who joined the club from Benfica for €5 million) has scored a goal and assisted another. Playing just behind him is Andrea Pereira. Pereira is the main creator in the side, as he operates as an attacking midfielder but can also play out wide and centrally if needed. Pereira, who joined in the summer for €10 million, has further shown his capabilities as a playmaker with six assists and two goals this season.
Out wide, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Willian have been influential. Decordova-Reid has scored four goals and provided one assist this season. Willian is enjoying a solid return to the Premier League as he signed on a free transfer from Greek side Corinthians. Willian has scored three goals and three assists this season. Neeskens Kebano has also been reliable on the wing for Fulham, tallying three assists this season.
Other notable additions have been Manor Solomon (on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk) and Sasa Lukic (joined from Torino in January for €9.1 million), and Kevin Mbabu (joined from Wolsfburg for €5.5 million but is currently on loan at Swiss side Servette). Solomon has scored three goals in seven appearances.
Marco Silva has transformed Fulham since becoming their manager with his tactical approach and recruitment. His formation provides balance all over the pitch, and his squad contains veteran leaders as well as talented up-and-coming stars. Under Silva, Fulham will hope to build on their thus far successful season and finish in the top-half of the Premier League, and possibly even qualify for Europe.