Premier League football. A privilege to play in and a dream to aspire towards for those in the depths of English football.
Fulham however, are no strangers to top flight football having had a fifteen-year stint there since 1999 before a tumultuous season in 2013 ended in relegation to the Championship where they still play their football to this day.
However, their third season in the Championship this year has seen them play some entertaining, classy and assured football which has earned them the last spot in the play-off places ahead of Leeds United.
Despite Fulham being behind Leeds for most of the season, consistency has been key for the Cottagers and maintaining their impressive performances in the closing stages of the season has proved to be crucial in securing a chance to return to the top flight.
Their recent record speaks for itself; five games, four wins and, most importantly, fourteen goals has given them a very healthy twenty-seven goal difference as opposed to the Yorkshiremen’s fourteen.
Although they are essentially at the bottom of the best in the Championship, they boast the third best goal difference and are the league’s highest scorers which doesn’t just make them favourites to succeed in the two games ahead, but also gives them a good chance of cementing themselves if they get to the Premier League.
One problem play-off dropouts Leeds had was their over reliance on particular players such as Chris Wood who has made up twenty-six of Leeds’ sixty goals, whereas Fulham have several different outlets for their goals through Sone Aluko, Chris Martin, Tom Cairney, Floyd Ayite and Ryan Sessegnon, just sixteen years of age, proving to be one to watch in the future.
But a factor which makes them a cut above the rest, is their manager, Slaviša Jokanović. The Serbian had one stint in the second tier and, amazingly, won promotion at the first attempt with Watford and although it was automatic and not play-off promotion, Jokanović will know better than others how to beat the big teams on the big occasion.