What a day for Fulham Football Club. We might have made it difficult for ourselves, but our win over Huddersfield alongside defeats for Leeds and Nottingham Forest means that we jump to third in the table, just three points off second. Before Christmas, the race for automatic promotion didn’t exist. Leeds and West Brom seemed too far away for anyone to really threaten, but now we stand here with 16 games to go and just SIX points separates West Brom in first and Bristol City in sixth. We really do have an extraordinary run in ahead of us, although I’m not sure if my heart can take it!
While we can be feeling very positive right now, I’m sure there were a few disappointed people amongst the fanbase given our unusually quiet transfer deadline day on Friday. I was hoping for a wing back in the door at Motspur Park, myself, but when we look at the business that we did get done, I think we can be happy enough. Making both Cavaleiro’s and De Cordova-Reid’s loan deals permanent is very good business while bringing in another centre back in Terence Kongolo, alongside finally being able to use Michael Hector, the core of our defence already looks far better. We have yet to see Kongolo and Hector together as our centre back pairing in the league, and I think once we do, we will start to see an improvement there. I am still concerned about our left back and right back spots, but hopefully Joe Bryan can start to regain some of the form that saw him become one of the best left backs in the league when he was at Bristol City. However, both him and Cyrus gained assists today, so going forward we have players who can contribute to the attack.
Going forward we are one of the strongest teams in the league and we showed that again today. I was worried when I saw that Mitrovic was in the starting line up as it doesn’t seem like that long ago that he gained his ankle injury in the first place, but thankfully he returned with a bang, netting his 19th league goal of the season and managing to play the full match. It’s great to see him back.
I like to split the season into months, and if there is any month that could push our promotion bid on, or completely derail it, it’s February. We have seven league games this month, including our win today. We are so used to hearing that the Christmas schedule is busy, but this is something else. Seven league games, two taking place midweek and three of them on the road. While we don’t face any of the teams in the top 6, we do have to take on four of the play-off chasers in Preston, Swansea, Millwall and Blackburn, so we aren’t in for an easy month.
Automatic promotion is still in our hands, but we absolutely must keep our head above the water. There will be twists and turns in the coming weeks, but we really can’t be dropping any silly points. We could easily finish outside the play-offs, even, that’s just how tight it is.
Bring it on.