What to expect from Fulham in the Premier League?
Under the Wembley arch on Saturday, Fulham beat out stiff competition from Aston Villa to earn their place back in the Premier League.
Manager Slavisa Jokanovic got The Cottagers playing stylish football in England's second-tier, with that paying off with a huge victory in the most financially-rewarding match in the beautiful game. The only way is forward for Fulham under the guidance of their 49-year-old gaffer, who's now been at the helm since 2015; proving that all he needed to implement his ideologies was time.
Preparations for playing Premier League football week-in-week-out will now be well underway. Their Serbian manager will already be identifying potential new signings, while working out which members from his current squad will be able to handle the rigours that top-level English football brings.
So what should we expect from Fulham during their first Premier League campaign in half-a-decade?
I've always been a firm believer in a club that sticks with their principals, rather than adapting to the situation. Fulham have played a possession-based style under Jokanovic. Why should that change now? It's worked so far, stick with it. They should look towards Huddersfield for inspiration, and I'd already suggest that The Cottagers have a better squad than their Yorkshire counterparts.
Their manager is building something special. The Craven Cottage faithful have found their leader. Chairman Shahid Khan deserves credit, too. It would've been criminal if Fulham didn't force their way into the Premier League after an excellent campaign, and the fact that their stars stepped up when the pressure was on says an awful lot about their confidence, composure and temperaments.
As the old saying goes, football would be nothing without the fans. Fulham have themselves an immensely passionate following. Their supporters love their club with unwavering loyalty. Make no mistake about it, this makes a difference to the players on the pitch; particularly when the going gets tough. In their first campaign back in the Premier League, Craven Cottage simply has to erupt at every possible moment, they need to ensure the away team know they're in a real tight-knit game and I'm fully expecting that to be the case.
The next step is ensuring their star players remain at the club. Captain Tom Cairney has gone from strength-to-strength since being handed the armband. He'll be attracting some serious interest. The same can be said for Ryan Sessegnon, who simply has to stay put at Fulham. Keeping Aleksandar Mitrovic in London is going to be tough, he may cost a pretty penny and it will be a gamble; I'd say it'd be a chance worth taking.
When it comes down to the wire, it's all about belief and hard work. If Fulham show that, every time they take to the field, they'll have ample opportunity to pick up those all-important Premier League points. They need to make full use of a home-field advantage that they genuinely do have. When things aren't going their way (which will happen at some point), that's when the board have to keep the faith in the management team and coaching staff. They've led the club this far, and given time, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fulham as a top-half Premier League regular once again.