Two Easter matches will define Fulham FC’s Premier League quest

Two Easter matches will define Fulham FC’s Premier League quest


Their bid to reach occupy one the four Championship play-off places has hit troubled water in recent weeks, but a Fulham win over Norwich City at Carrow road on Good Friday would have the Whites back on course. They are positioned in Sheffield Wednesday’s slipstream, ready to pounce should the Yorkshire side slip up over the five game run-in.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side are the joint-second highest scorers in the division with 72 goals, a testament to the incisive brand of football their Serbian manager has them playing. The Canaries sit tenth in the Championship but ominously thumped promotion chasing Reading 7-1 last weekend.

Should the West Londoners take all three points from their first Bank Holiday clash, they would be well-placed ahead of another crucial game on Easter Monday – Aston Villa’s visit to Craven Cottage. There is so much at stake for Fulham as their third season since being relegated from the Premier League in 2014 reaches its crescendo.

The overall improvement from last year’s 20th place finish has been vast, and there is a sense within the club that they are on the verge of achieving what would be an brilliant yet relatively unexpected promotion. It could all come down to the final game of the season, a huge ‘six-pointer’ with Wednesday at Hillsborough on May 7.

The 2014 managerial appointment of Felix Magath – the man who instructed club captain Brede Hangeland to place a block of cheese on his thigh to make him fit for the next match, was the beginning of Fulham’s fall from the precipice. But they have rebuilt with a team of talented youngsters, coached by an astute tactician in Jokanovic to gradually climb back towards where they should be.

Whether they can haul themselves into the play-offs and then to Wembley remains to be seen, but with Floyd Ayite hitting some top form at the perfect time they are more than in with a shout. The futures of midfield maestro Tom Cairney and wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon could also depend on Fulham reaching the Premier League sooner rather than later.

Sessegnon at just 16-years-old has played an important role in Fulham’s promotion push, scoring five goals in 22 league appearances, and six in 26 in all competitions. His form has seen him targeted as a summer-signing for the biggest teams in the land, and some across Europe too. But Jokanovic has warned Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal to keep their hand off his prized possession – so to speak!

“Sessegnon will not be in the transfer market in the summer,” the Fulham manager insisted. Jokanovic was also quick to pour cold water on rumours linking him to the West Ham job. The former Watford boss is believed to be rated highly by the hierarchy at the London Stadium, with Slaven Bilic’s position at the club under scrutiny.

“I’ve extended my contract. I am absolutely committed, always, I am happy with my club,” he added. “I want to be a Premier League manager with Fulham Football Club.” Hopefully two Fulham wins over the Easter period can go some way to making that dream a reality.

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