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Fulham could easily be playing in League One next year if they don’t get promoted

The vultures will be circling if Fulham don't manage to get promoted to the Premier League this season

First things first I should come clean.

I’m a Fulham fan, so none of this comes from a place of Chelsea/QPR/Brentford bias.

It’s pure supporter’s pessimism, which is actually quite impressive given we’re currently on a 19-game unbeaten run in the Championship.

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Far too good for the Championship

Far too good for the Championship

But if Fulham don’t go up to the Premier League this season then I can see us playing in League One next year.

Allow me to explain.

Actually, first I should set the scene for those of you who aren’t up to date with the second-tier of English football (I was one of you before Fulham got relegated in 2014).

3 May 2014 is a dark day in Fulham’s history

Getty Images - Getty
3 May 2014 is a dark day in Fulham’s history

Jorge Mendes Wolves are essentially already promoted to the Premier League, thanks to the addition of a Portuguese international midfielder who captained Porto in the Champions League aged 18.

I’m not salty though- who wouldn’t want to swap Porto for the Championship and a chance to play alongside John Ruddy?

The race for the second automatic promotion spot is now between Fulham and Cardiff, unless Aston Villa can do something extraordinary.

It’s a battle between the best footballing team in the division and a Neil Warnock side complete with the obligatory league’s best defence.

Cardiff are about as pretty on the eye as Danny Welbeck’s first touch but with Warnock in charge anything is possible- bar tiki-taka football and a calm reaction to missing two 90th minute penalties.

Is he happy or sad?

Getty - Contributor
Is he happy or sad?

I genuinely can’t think of a time I’ve ever enjoyed watching Fulham play more- particularly Tim Ream’s transformation into the Whites’ very own Sergio Ramos.

Honestly, you try and spot the difference.

For most of last season he looked like a deer taking its first steps after a double Jack and Coke but this campaign he’s been Fulham’s best player.

Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen and Kevin McDonald blend work rate, technique and composure to make a mockery of Craven Cottage’s tight pitch while Ryan Fredericks deserves praise for his constant raids down the right.

Up front Aleksandar Mitrovic’s prolific shithousery combined with 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon’s supernatural ability to be in the right place at the right time have taken Fulham to another level since January.

All of which makes what could happen next depressingly inevitable.

Pea on a fork

Action Images
Pea on a fork

Despite being the Championship’s in-form side, the play-offs always represent a lottery.

In the last ten years only Norwich, West Ham, Swansea and Hull have gone up after entering the play-offs in third place.

I know I’m being overly pessimistic, but if Fulham fail to get promoted then the future looks bleak.

The Beast from the East

The Beast from the East

If I’m cautious in my estimations then there’s every chance that five of the current first-choice XI will be playing their football elsewhere next season.

Sessegnon can take his pick of European sides, Fredericks and Cairney have been strongly linked with West Ham, among others, while Mitrovic and Matt Targett will probably return to their parent clubs.

Jokanovic only has 12 months left on his contract so there’s no guarantee he’ll still be about.

That’s a lot of quality for a club with Fulham’s lack of strength in depth to lose.

To say the stakes are high is an understatement.

Continue this ridiculous run of form, wait for Cardiff to slip and the future looks bright in south-west London.

I’m already picturing the open-top bus parade, return of both Mousa and Moussa Dembele and Sessegnon committing to a ten-year contract before leading us to a first Premier League title.

Bottle the play-offs and who knows where we’ll be in late 2019. All I can see is away trips to Fleetwood and Southend.