Fulham Season Guide
Nickname: The Cottagers
Ground: Currently playing at Loftus Road, South Africa Road, London W12 7PA.
Ticket Office: 0870 442 1234; or online
Home - White shirts with black trim and one black sleeve, black shorts, white and black socks
Away - Black shirts with red panels, black shorts, red and black socks
Soccernet's Fulham page | Full squad | Fixture list
Soccernet's Fulham Correspondent
Official Fulham Website
Unofficial website - FulhamWeb
Fan site - Fulhamish.com
|Last Season - Close call||Position: 14th|
Fulham will want to put the 2002/03 campaign behind them as quickly as possible. It was the season that they finally reached something of a plateau on their amazing rise from a struggling lower division outfit to a Premiership side, but it very nearly saw them slip back down. The lengthy search for a new stadium failed to bear fruit - leading to an attempted groundshare with Chelsea - and it still shows no clear sign of being resolved. Then there was the stand-off with FIFA over the transfer of Steve Marlet. Fulham still refuse to pay Lyon the final installment of the £11.5million fee due to a row over an agent's involvement - and the club now face a worldwide transfer ban. Manager Jean Tigana also departed after being told his contract would not be renewed - had he not been replaced the club would surely have been relegated as their form nosedived. That led to the introductioin of Chris Coleman, who guided the side to safety in 14th place, as boss and the beginning of a more spendthrift era at Fulham.
|Transfers - In and Out|
Mark Pembridge (Everton) - £500,000
Mark Crossley (Middlesbrough) - Undisc.
Jerome Bonnissel (Rangers) - Free
Malik Buari - Free
Adam Green - Free
Moritz Volz (Arsenal) - Loan
Steve Finnan (Liverpool) - Undisc.
Luke Cornwall (Bradford) - Free
Ross Flitney (Brighton) - Loan
Elvis Hammond (Norwich) - Loan
Jon Harley (Sheff United) - Loan
Martin Herrera (Estudiantes) - Loan
Mark Hudson (Oldham) - Loan
Steve Marlet (Marseille) - Loan
Abdeslam Ouaddou (Rennes) - Loan
Maik Taylor (Birmingham) - Loan
Calum Willock (Bristol R) - Loan
John Collins - Released
Bjarne Goldbaek - Released
|First Choice XI|
1-Edwin Van der Sar; Moritz Volz, 4-Andy Melville, 24-Alain Goma, 26-Jon Harley; 14-Steed Malbranque, 18-Sylvain Legwinksi, 23-Sean Davis, 11-Luis Boa Morte; 20-Louis Saha, 7-Steve Marlet.
|The Gaffer - Chris Coleman|
The last manager promoted from within at Fulham, Paul Bracewell, lasted just ten months - and three of those were over the summer. Chris Coleman's task is win over the doubters and prove the results achieved at the end of last season were not a flash in the pan. Only Atillio Lombardo, with Crystal Palace, has managed in the Premiership at a younger age. The former Wales international, just 33, brings a breath of fresh air to the squad after the strict and rigid style of Jean Tigana. The players have already spoken of a more relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere at training. But Coleman, who served Fulham so well as a player as they rose from the Second Division, has to shed his image as 'one of the boys' to earn respect as a manager. He was forced to hang up his boots last summer after failing to recover from injuries sustained in a horrific car crash, which left him with two broken legs, a broken ankle and a badly damaged knee.
|Player to Watch - Steed Malbranque|
Belgian Steed Malbranque (born in Belgium, plays for France) has carved out a reputation as a skillful and classy midfielder since joining the Cottagers from Lyon for £4.5million two years ago. The 23-year-old has proved his goalscoring talents with a number of impressive goals from distance, and his tally of 13 left him as the club's top scorer last season. Without Malbranque, Fulham's plight at the bottom end of the Premiership would surely have been greater. He prefers to play wide right or behind the front two, and will surely be vital again this term. Malbranque has struck up a fine understanding with Frenchman Sylvain Legwinski in the centre of the park and it is these two players that make the Cottagers tick.
|Young Gun - Dean Leacock|
In a squad pretty much bereft of young talent, Dean Leacock perhaps has the best chance of making it into the first team this season. The 19-year-old has won rave reviews from the club's coaching staff, and former manager Jean Tigana, for his displays. Tigana in particular was impressed with his performance on his debut against Wigan in the Worthington Cup last December. Coach Steve Kean has even dubbed Leacock as 'the next Rio Ferdinand'. The Croydon-born player, who is an England Under-19 international, can play either on the right or in the centre of defence. With the influx of big money signings from the continent seemingly a thing of the past at Fulham, Leacock may finally get the chance to move through the ranks to be a regular in the Fulham first team, given time.
|From the terraces|
Fulham enter their third season in the Premiership with many question marks. What can Chris Coleman do as manager? What will Fulham do with the losses of such players as Steve Finnan and Bjanrne Goldbaek? And finally who is going to score the goals?
Chris Coleman will be thrown into a baptism of fire once the Premiership kicks off. Steve Marlet must prove his transfer fee, Louis Saha must find the form he had in Division One and in the early months of Fulham's first Premiership season, and Facundo Sava needs to stop worrying about what mask to wear.
Elvis Hammond could prove pivotal this season. Mohammed Al Fayed seems prepared to off load the club if he receives a good offer, so this means very little in the transfer kitty for Coleman. Things look bleak for the Cottagers, but they will stay up - barely.
By Tom Buck, Soccernet's Fulham Correspondent.
A lot of people think we are going to struggle this season, but I'm not so sure about that. Chris Coleman may be very young and inexperienced, but he has the players on his side and they will want to play for the club this season.
In Malbranque we have a fine midfielder who will get bags of goals and create his fair share as well. But I still feel we're a little short up front, none of our current crop of strikers look capable of that 15-20 goals you need in this division.
Sean Davis' transfer request is a worry though - if interest from rival clubs is a measure of ability, then he is international class. We don't need to be losing that.
By Iain Phillips, via email.
The bookmakers have us down as one of the favourites for the drop this season, and let's face it, it is not hard to see why. The signings of Jerome Bonnissel and Moritz Volz have hardly set the hearts racing, whilst the departure of Steve Finnan was a blow now matter how inevitable it was.
And with Chris Coleman finding his feet as the youngest boss in the Premiership, it is going to be a rocky ride over the coming nine months. All we can hope for is mid-table security, allowing us to reassess were we are heading next summer.
I expect Elvis Hammond to become a household name this season after bursting onto the first team scene last term, whilst Dean Leacock is also set to make an impression. Prediction - tenth.
By Jan Allen, from Fans FC.
|Best - Mid-table||Worst - Relegation|
This season should be one of transition for Fulham. But while they have the resources already at hand to secure a mid-table Premiership finish they could easily be sucked into a real relegation battle. Chris Coleman faces a serious test in his first managerial job, but he will have the players on his side - at the beginning at least. Like most of the sides in the lower reaches of the Premiership pecking order, Fulham will be eager to get off to a good start which they can build on. If results are disappointing from the off, however, Coleman could go the way of other rookie managers, such as Southampton's Stuart Gray and Bradford's Chris Hutchings, in losing his job early in the campaign. Fulham should be okay for another season, but they will have to tread carefully.