Three Sky Bet Championship promotions in five years, a first League title in 21 years and records continuing to be broken. Fulham’s haul is an enviable one.
Victory over Preston North End midway through April sealed the Cottagers' ascension back to the top-flight at the first time of asking as they dispatched their Lancashire visitors 3-0 at Craven Cottage, before making a play for top spot.
Marco Silva’s side made light work of Luton Town in midweek, cruising to a 7-0 triumph over the Hatters, and the head coach watched in delight as his team stormed the title in style.
“It just reflects our ferocity as a Club,” the Cottagers boss said. “To be champions in a tough, tough competition is fantastic for us. It’s a fantastic feeling for all of us, everyone within the Club, our players and all the staff. I have to thank all of them because they did a fantastic job, and they achieved an amazing campaign.
“As I told them several times, it’s not just what we achieve. The last two times the Club didn’t achieve it is important as well, but we are so dominant, and we’ve had some fantastic performances.”
Fulham have been fearless in the face of goal this season, with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line. Silva’s men put seven goals past Blackburn Rovers and Reading earlier in the season, before scoring six against both Bristol City and Birmingham City.
The all too familiar sight of the Serbian wheeling away from goal made a reappearance at Craven Cottage. Mitrovic, who broke Guy Whittingham’s almost three-decade old record to become the top scorer in a second-tier season since the division was reformatted in 1992.
Mitrovic put the icing on the cake deep into stoppage time against the Hatters to notch strike number 43 of the season.
“I’ve done my job and scored goals,” he said. “It’s been a big season on an individual and a team level. It’s been amazing. I’m very proud. I couldn’t have done it without my team-mates and people who work for the Club who have helped me a lot.”
Monday evening saw skipper Tom Cairney, who notched Fulham’s 100th goal of the season, add a third Championship promotion to his CV with the Cottagers.
Having arrived in West London at a Club looking to re-establish themselves in the League, placing 20th in his first campaign in a Whites shirt, this is a very different Fulham to the one that the midfielder Cairney joined in the summer of 2015, but he’s seen it all during his time at Craven Cottage.
“You could sense in the atmosphere that it was going to be a special night, but I didn’t quite imagine it was going to be like that,” he smiled. “Every single player was unbelievable; we could’ve scored more. It was crazy. We got promoted at home and then the title at home, but to do it in that kind of fashion and scoring seven goals, it’s amazing.
“The manager has got to take a lot of credit. When we’re 2-0 or 3-0 up at half-time, a lot of managers would keep it tight, but we want to go for more goals. That’s all we’ve done.”
This time, Cairney managed to dodge a detour via the Play-Offs, having overcome Aston Villa in the 2017/18 Final at Wembley and Brentford in 2019/20 to secure the last remaining promotion berth.
But the highs and lows are what makes the game for the 31-year-old, who was handed the armband six years ago.
“This is why you play football, and this is why we do what we do,” he continued. “There’s a lot of down days – bad results and bad performances – but you really have to enjoy moments like this because they’re rare.”
The kids are alright
The white-hot glow of the floodlights bounces off the glistening silverware, the prestigious ‘The Lady’, but there is one light that has shone particularly bright at Craven Cottage this season.
Fulham’s teenage talent Fabio Carvalho has made headlines this season for the West Londoners.
“It’s my first full season and it’s been a very good one,” the Cottagers starlet stated. “I always say to myself there’s room to improve and keep working hard.
“It’s what we’ve wanted from the start of the season – it was our main objective and thankfully, we achieved it. I’ve said it 20 times but I’m starting to lose my voice. It’s just an amazing feeling to be champions in front of the home fans.
“We’ve done it before in this season where we’ve scored six or seven, but it was very special. They’re the 12th player; they’ve encouraged us all season and without them, this wouldn’t be possible. It’s the best it’s been all season. The atmosphere was electric. This just goes to show how everybody is contributing, on and off the ball.”
Craven Cottage bouncing
A crowd of 19,538 turned out to see the Cottagers seal the deal on home soil, and the fixture was hailed as “the best atmosphere this season” by the Fulham manager.
“The fans knew what we could achieve,” Silva explained. “They always create this atmosphere in our stadium, and it makes us stronger as a team. It’s important to give them what they deserve and to make them proud.”
“We’ve finished in an amazing way in front of our fans with a big win and we lifted the trophy,” the team’s leading marksman Mitrovic concurred. “They’ve been a big part of our season. The stadium was full, and they were singing from the first minute to the last.
“It’s been a big season, but we’re looking forward to next season.”