Fulham will join Huddersfield in the Championship next season after a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Watford condemned the club to relegation in their first season back in the Premier League.
The season started with buckets of optimism after the club splashed out over £100m on 12 players but fast-forward to the current day and the enthusiasm has eroded with Fulham down and out after registering just four wins and 17 points, while they’re currently on their third manager.
It’s clear that Fulham must rebuild after their expensive failure, with a clutch of their stars likely to be linked with moves away in the summer, but who will be the man charged with inspiring an instant return to the Premier League?
The Sportsman takes a look at four contenders for the full-time job…
Scott Parker may have failed to pick up a single point from five games in management, but given the difficult circumstances the finger can’t be pointed in his direction. Fulham may be down but Parker has won praise for altering the atmosphere at Craven Cottage, and will keen to restore pride from the club’s final handful of matches - a couple of wins could significantly boost his chances of bagging the job permanently.
"Ultimately I want to stamp my mark on this team because I feel like I can; I want to bring an identity back to us, said Parker. If the owners believe in that, then perfect. We will see what pans out."
The Championship is one of the most competitive and cut-throat leagues on the planet. Just ask the experienced Steve McClaren, who was sent packing by QPR earlier this week. Other high-profile managerial casualties this season include Steve Bruce, Aitor Karanka, and Darren Moore. But Frank Lampard has so far enjoyed an encouraging debut season at Derby, and if Fulham do keep the faith in their rookie boss it’s crucial that the club appoint an experienced assistant manager to help him and the team out.
Not out of the question.
Slavisa Jokanovic will still feel hard done by his sacking earlier this season, but it’s not exactly like Fulham have improved since his departure, having registered only 12 points from their following 21 matches, resulting in relegation last night.
The Serbian is somewhat of a Championship promotion specialist, having led Fulham and Watford up to the Promised Land, and he could be handed the chance to propel that tally to three. Given his disputes with the club’s hierarchy, it’s unknown whether he would welcome a return, but at the time of writing he remains out-of-work, and recently turned down French club Bordeaux, while he has been linked with West Brom.
It didn’t work out for Jokanovic or Fulham in the top-flight, but a summer re-appointment could make the club a force to be reckoned with next term.
Currently winning praise from all corners for his work at Kilmarnock, who are flying high in 3rd behind the Old Firm duo - they’ve not finished in the top-three since 1966. Deservedly so too, last season he arrived at a club in all sorts of trouble at the foot of the table, only to inspire a revival, leading Killie from 11th up to 5th.
Clarke’s stunning impact has resulted in links to both Celtic and the Scotland national team, but he recently insisted that his next managerial move will be down south.
“It’s 100% certain that I’ll go back to England,” the 2017/18 SFWA Manager of the Year told The Scotsman. Clarke previously had spells at West Brom and Reading, and assistant positions at Chelsea, Liverpool, and Newcastle. He’ll no doubt have his sights set on the Premier League, but Fulham could try their luck in the summer, although they would have to cough up a compensation fee.
Lee Johnson has been touted, as have David Moyes, Michael O’Neill, and Claude Puel, however it’s David Wagner that catches the eye.
Like Jokanovic he departed his post (Huddersfield) earlier this season, in order to ‘recharge his batteries’. That was back in January and come the summer the German-American will no doubt be eager to take up a new challenge.
Could his next destination be Fulham?
He performed miracles with Huddersfield, leading the club from potential relegation down to League One up to the Premier League in the space of 18 remarkable months, before preserving their status last year. He could prove to be the perfect antidote to Fulham’s woes with iNews reporting that he’s 'under consideration'.