Fulham can have no excuses for not being prepared for life back in the Championship next season after being relegated with five Premier League matches left, according to the chair of the supporters’ trust.
Owner Shahid Khan apologised to the club’s fans on Wednesday morning after the 4-1 thumping at Watford, a ninth-successive defeat, sealed their fate.
The Cottagers splashed out more than £100millon on new players following promotion last summer, but registered only four Premier League victories and sacked two managers during a season of struggle.
A message to the #FFC fans, from our Chairman Shahid Khan.
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) April 3, 2019
Khan said in his statement he was “sorry that we let you down”, while also looking ahead to “plan thoroughly and respond accordingly”.
Whether caretaker-boss Scott Parker – appointed on a temporary basis following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri in February – will be at the helm for a promotion challenge remains to be seen.
Fulham Supporters’ Trust chair Tom Greatrex, though, feels lessons must be learned from a campaign which had promised so much yet ultimately failed to deliver on the pitch.
“Despite having spent a very large amount of money in the summer, our squad and team overall, having tried with three different managers, has not been good enough,” Greatrex told Press Association Sport.
“Relegation has felt inevitable since January, and possibly a bit longer.
“There are issues now which the club needs to address, and that is one thing we will take from the chairman’s statement, about responsibility and accountability – and most importantly about how we approach next season back in the Championship.”
— FST (@FulhamSuppTrust) April 3, 2019
Greatrex believes with the right approach, Fulham should be looking to secure a swift return to the top flight this time next year.
“I would hope we are in a better position, similar to West Brom, than similar to Stoke, two of the teams who went down last year,” said Greatrex with the FST set to sit down with the club next week for their regular monthly meeting.
“Firstly, it will be about how much of the current squad, who are not on loan, are retained, and there are lots of factors around that, and how quickly we are able to get in place the coaching and management team which is going to have the responsibility of being in charge next season.
“We cant argue we have not had time to prepare for next season, having looked like we were going to be relegated for several months and now having been so mathematically with five games to go.”
FULL-TIME Watford 4-1 Fulham
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 2, 2019
Khan’s statement accepted recent results had been “troubling”, with confirmation of relegation making “today the most difficult day of all”.
The Fulham chairman said: “I am sorry that we let you down.
“Our goal this season was to build on what we achieved in promotion and deliver on our pledge to invest heavily in the squad, ensuring that Fulham would always compete in the Premier League and, no matter the result, never disappoint.
“That didn’t occur and, for that, we hold ourselves accountable. We will reflect, plan thoroughly and respond accordingly.”
Former Chelsea and Leicester boss Ranieri lasted just 106 days in charge, having being appointed in November following the dismissal of promotion-winning manager Slavisa Jokanovic.
In Wednesday’s statement, billionaire businessman Khan, who bought the club in 2013, also reaffirmed his commitment to Fulham and promised an impending update on improvements to Craven Cottage.
“I recognise that may not be of consolation today, but I offer it nonetheless to assure you of my total commitment to Fulham Football Club. Thank you for your faith, endurance and support,” he added.