Last Season: 7th
Say hello to your new teammates: Bjorn Helge Riise, Stephen Kelly.
Close the door on your way out: Collins John, Julian Gray, Moritz Volz.
Predicted star: Another team where organisation and team work is the key, making it hard to pick out individual stars. Danny Murphy is enjoying an Indian Summer and was terrific last season while Clint Dempsey was better and better as the season went on. However, I think it will be Mark Schwarzer again, his saves being worth at least ten points a season (notice Boro go down after he left).
Needs a big year: Lack of goals was an issue last season (so many 0-0s and 1-0s) so Andy Johnson needs to show he still capable of more than the seven goals he scored in 2008/09.
One to watch: If Bjorn Helge Riise is half as good as his brother, Fulham will have a decent player on their hands. Chris Smalling could find himself playing a lot in defence.
What they want to happen: More of the same – good football, top half finish. Maybe Chairman Mo to loosen those purse strings just a touch. Oh and keep Hangeland away from the big clubs.
Nightmare scenario: Hangeland gets sold, the small squad gets found out and a return to bottom half struggles ensues.
Plan A: Knock it about prettily in midfield before playing through Andy Johnson or Clint Dempsey to finish.
Plan B, just in case: Play for 0-0.
Predicted finish: 11th
Why? Last season saw everything go right for Fulham and the result was an unexpected highest ever finish of 7th. The defence was inspired and Schwarzer was one of the signings of the season. Luckily for them the squad is intact and Hodgson has added a couple of unknowns to aid the squad with the extra games that Europa League qualification has brought. Assuming they keep Hangeland for now, Fulham should be able to cope with the demands of domestic and European competition.
The secret signals that are key to success!
Away form is still a bit of issue and a defensive midfielder to play ahead of/alongside Etuhu would be helpful in gaining more points on that front. An extra striker is also desirable given Hodgson’s willingness to let Zamora go. They will slip down a few places just due to the level of strengthening of the clubs behind them but their form at Craven Cottage should ensure another good season for Fulham.