If you’re anything like me, you’ll be pinching yourself every time you see the Premier League table. Fulham are seventh. That’s not a misprint. They sit seventh in the top flight after twelve matches: which is surely worthy of wider comment given that the Whites were one of the bookmakers’ favourites to go down. Pundit after pundit engaged in the banter around Norwich City and the Cottagers swapping places, querying Marco Silva’s credentials as a top flight coach and, of course, decided that Aleksandar Mitrovic wasn’t a Premier League player. Now, it remains very earlier in an unprecedented season – about to be interrupted by the shameful hosting of a World Cup in Qatar – but the early signs are encouraging.

This is the equal highest position that Fulham have ever occupied in a Premier League table. Amassing eighteen points from the first dozen fixtures puts Silva’s side on a par with the one coached by Chris Coleman, who was the overwhelming favourite to be the first manager sacked, in 2003/04. Indeed, the current side’s number of games won, drawn, lost and goals scored is exactly the same as Cookie’s team that took the top flight by storm that year. This week in 2003, the Welshman masterminded a magnificent win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The captain that day, Lee Clark – who opened the scoring early on – celebrates his 50th birthday today.

How has Silva done it? He’s stayed due to his vow, made to those of us fortunate enough to witness his post-match press conference after the Whites clinched the Championship title with a seven-goal thrashing of Luton, that Fulham would attack the top flight and not compromise on his philosophy. Those were bold words, similar to how Slavisa Jokanovic spoke of his intentions following the first promotion under Shahid Khan, but crucially the current incumbent of the Craven Cottage hotseat has not only got the players he wanted, but he has previous experience of the Premier League that the Serbian lacked. Silva knew his adventurous approach would leave a leaky defence open against the very best and the acquisition of Joao Palhinha was vital. Luring the man with the octopus legs from Sporting, who showed that they aren’t too shabby against Spurs last night, for a mere £17m must rank amongst the best business of the summer.

Just as crucial to making Fulham a force to be reckoned with was getting Mitrovic, a man in the form of his life, the service upon which he could thrive. Many a manager has concluded that the Serbian number nine was too much of a luxury in the Premier League: Rafa Benitez reached such a view long before Scott Parker’s perplexing preference for Ivan Cavaleiro up top played out in front of our television screens. But Mitrovic – motivated by the opportunity to land some blows at a major tournament for his country this winter as well as keeping Fulham up – demonstrated his devastating quality on the opening weekend against Liverpool. You could make a compelling case claiming that Jurgen Klopp’s side haven’t recovered yet. Our number nine has nine top-flight goals already, two short of his total in his full season in SW6, and three ahead of any other Fulham forward at this stage, including Louis Saha and Dimitar Berbatov.

The two away wins that have made such a difference to Fulham’s position in the emerging table are testament to what’s different about this team. At both Nottingham Forest and Leeds United, the Whites went behind having conceded sloppy goals. On a fabulous Friday night at the City Ground, Fulham roared back – scoring three fine goals in six minutes – to show they weren’t a soft touch on the road. On Sunday in Yorkshire, Silva’s side responded to the concession of a soft opener to Jesse Marsch’s men by playing the kind of composed, possession-based football that secured promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Bobby Decordova-Reid, rampaging forward from right back, headed them in front and Willian, whose signing was ridiculed by so many experts, opened his Fulham account with a third after great work from the industrious Harrison Reed.

Fulham haven’t won three meaningful Premier League matches in a row since Pavel Pogrebnyak’s peerless start to life at Craven Cottage in the spring of 2012. Parker managed it at the tail end of the miserable 2018/2019 season but the Whites’ wins over Everton, Bournemouth and Cardiff came after relegation had been confirmed. Frank Lampard, forever a favourite in this parts after his part in bulldozing the Cottage pub, brings Everton to the banks of the River Thames on Saturday night. Given that the two matches that conclude the Cottagers’ league programme are against Manchester City and Manchester United, Silva’s side will spy an opportunity to add another three points to their already impressive total. Palhinha and Reed have protected a back four that has still looked fragile superbly, but the Portuguese head coach might need to consider another defensive alteration to deal with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The fact that Tim Ream is still being ignored by Gregg Berhalter is probably worthy of a joint-session of Congress at this point, but it does make a refreshing change for the Whites to have options at centre back. Issa Diop and Tosin Adarabioyo have all the attributes to form a formidable partnership, but our St. Louis-based veteran has been sensational so far.

And that’s where we are. Fulham are flying. They’ve done it under the radar, which will be how everyone at Motspur Park would prefer it. Harry Wilson, such a strong contributor last season’s success, only made his first start of the season at Elland Road. We won’t see any more of Manor Solomon, who provided the pass that helped Mitrovic become the first Premier League player to dribble past Virgil van Dijk, until after the impromptu winter break. Fortunes change and Fulham are especially vulnerable to injuries to their key performers (which must be a worry with Wilson, Palhinha and Mitrovic all set for spells in Qatar), but it is worth celebrating what the Whites have achieved so far. If we don’t, nobody else will: judging by the fact that the columns describing the last two victories were taken up with discussion of Steven Gerrard and Marsch.

Whatever happens, we will get to watch the evolution of Marco Silva’s eye-catching side. As Tommy Trinder would have said, ‘You lucky people’!