Fulham’s 2016/17 season
League Position: 6th – lost to Reading in Play-Off Semi-Finals (2015/16: 20th)
Average league attendance: 18,498 (2015/16: 17,566)
Top league goalscorer: Tom Cairney (12)
A month ago it looked as it Fulham might regain their Premier League status after three years outside the top flight but a surprising Play-Off loss to Reading ensured they would have a fourth successive season in the second tier. The West London side won five of their last six games (only failing to win against Brentford at Craven Cottage in late April) and were on a run of two defeats in 17 as they entered the Play-Offs. They had recorded four wins out of six games against the Play-Off rivals, beating both Reading and Huddersfield Town 5-0 at home, but could not make it over the line and back to the top flight.
The Whites started the season well, winning three of their first five, but dropped to mid-table before starting a fantastic run of form in December. They lost only five more games as they clinched a top six spot and were considered favourites before the Play-Offs started. They drew 1-1 with Reading at Craven Cottage and were beaten at the Madjeski Stadium as Yann Kermorgant scored the only goal for the Berkshire side from the penalty spot, leaving Fulham with nothing to show for their efforts.
It was a season of highlights for Fulham, they beat eventual champions Newcastle United home and away and did likewise against Huddersfield, who won the Play-Offs. No team scored more than the 85 goals The Whites notched despite the sale of Ross McCormack, top scorer for the previous two seasons, before the start of the campaign. Fulham also reached the FA Cup Fifth Round and EFL Cup Third Round.
It could be argued that the main reason for Fulham’s success last season was their boss – Slaviša Jokanović. The 48-year-old, who had a stellar playing career – including winning 64 international caps for Yugoslavia and FR Yugoslavia and playing at the 1998 World Cup, is earning himself a reputation as a successful manager. He led Watford to promotion from the Sky Bet Championship in 2015 and nearly repeated the feat at Fulham.
Jokanović won the Spanish and Yugoslav titles during his playing career and also had two seasons in the Premier League with Chelsea when he was in his 30s. He moved in to coaching and was soon appointed Head Coach at Fudbalski klub Partizan, in Belgrade, where he also spent three years as a player. He won two doubles before leaving in 2009 and has had a nomadic career since which has included working in Bulgaria, Spain and Thailand as well as England.
Head to Head
Brentford wins: 18
Fulham wins: 20