Fulham's return to the Premier League could hardly have started any worse. They were comprehensively beaten by Arsenal on the opening day, came away from Elland Road empty handed, and were battered by Aston Villa on Monday. Then this was all compounded by a 3-0 League Cup defeat to local rivals Brentford.
The euphoria of August's play-off final victory is long gone, and now it's all doom and gloom. Some betting sites have already paid out on the Whites to be relegated, while Jamie Carragher has stated that he's 'never been more certain' of anything than Fulham's relegation.
The problems run deep at Craven Cottage. The defence is nothing short of a car crash, the midfield is weak, the frontline is misfiring, the manager looks lost, and the owner is making a fool of himself on social media. There's no quick fix.
So...what are they going to do about it? There are still a few days left of the transfer window and some big name managers out of the job. Can they save themselves from almost inevitable relegation? It's unlikely, but let's have a look at their options.
Have a look at Fulham's squad. Now tell me how many Premier League proven players they currently own. Aleksandar Mitrovic, maybe? Aside from him, who else is there? Certainly no one in defence, that's for sure.
If the Whites wish to give themselves any chance of survival, then they'll need to bring in a truckload of reinforcements. It's something that the owners are no strangers to. After all, just two years ago they spent over £100m on 15 new players. The catastrophic recent performances must be tempting the board to open their wallets.
However, everyone remembers how their last heavy-spending summer went - almost all of them flopped, and they finished in 19th place.
This time around, there's been somewhat of an overcorrection - instead of bringing in far too many players for big prices, they haven't made enough new signings, and instead stuck with players who clearly aren't good enough. The Fulham hierarchy are clearly yet to find the right balance between the two.
But nonetheless, there's no way they'll stay up with their current roster, so surely it's time to start splashing the cash, right?
Well, unless they can unearth a gem or two from nowhere, they'll need to bring in at least five or six new players. However, they may have left it too late in the transfer window. Everyone can see how poor they've been so far, and everyone knows they're desperate for top quality signings. Consequently, Fulham will have to overpay if they want top flight proven talent. And even then, it might not be enough.
Forking out millions more would be an immense gamble for the west London side, especially in the current financial situation. Bringing in half a new starting XI will give them a bit more of a fighting chance, but it will still leave them with one of the weakest squads in the division - even if every single one of those new signings ends up being good. Is it really worth throwing another £50m or so just to give yourselves a slightly bigger chance at staying up?
Change the Manager
Scott Parker was a good player in his prime, and he seems like a lovely bloke. However, he's simply out of his depth as a Premier League level manager. You only need to look at the Aston Villa game for evidence of this - there were no visible tactics beyond 'cross to Mitrovic and pray', and striker Aboubakar Kamara was playing as a right wing-back.
But who in their right mind would want to go to Fulham in the state they're in? The current pool of available managers is not the most glamorous, but there are some notable names.
Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is one man who could be up to the task, having worked miracles with the Cherries before their relegation last summer. Although, when your biggest problem is your defence, bringing in a manager who conceded 330 goals in his last five seasons is hardly going to make a difference.
One man who knows all about defending, however, is the human last resort himself, Sam Allardyce. All Fulham fans just audibly shuddered at the thought of Big Sam coming to Craven Cottage, but there's no denying that he's an expert in relegation dogfights. However, even the Unrelegateable Monster™ would struggle to keep a clean sheet with Denis Odoi and Tim Ream at the back. Nonetheless, with one or two additions to the backline, the former England boss could get something out of them.
This might sound crazy, especially given that we're only three games into the season, but maybe the Whites would be better off accepting their fate already.
Have a look at Burnley, for example. They didn't spend over the odds in the 2014/15 season and were relegated without much of a fight. However, with a year's worth of Premier League money, the Clarets were able to bring in the likes of James Tarkowski and Andre Gray to fire them back to the top tier, and they haven't been back down since.
In comparison, QPR got relegated in the same season as Burnley, having spent significantly more than Sean Dyche's side. This led to serious Financial Fair Play troubles which are still hampering the club today.
Looking at it from a more cynical point of view, it might be better for Fulham in the long run if they saved their millions and bit the bullet. They already have a squad capable of promotion, and with top flight TV money and parachute payments, they could make themselves an unstoppable force in the Championship again.
Source : 90min