LONDON (Reuters) - Having spent more money in the last transfer window than any other club promoted to the Premier League had ever done — an estimated 100 million pounds ($129.75 million) — Fulham were looking forward to the new season.
A dozen matches in, with only one of them won, their return to the big time after four years is turning sour.
Sunday’s sixth successive league defeat, by 2-0 at Liverpool, left them stuck to the bottom of the table. Worse, teams such as Cardiff City, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town, who had performed equally badly early on, have suddenly discovered the sort of form and good fortune that has continued to elude Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.
Cardiff, promoted along with Fulham last season, beat them 4-2 last month and added a second victory in four games against Brighton on Saturday with a last-minute winning goal.
Huddersfield beat them 1-0 last Monday then drew with West Ham, while Newcastle, under the experienced Rafa Benitez, have taken six points from two games after failing to win any of their first 10.
All three of the London club’s rivals will go into the forthcoming international break in good heart, while Fulham owner Shahid Khan must decide whether it is time to part company with Jokanovic, to whom he gave strong backing only two weeks ago.
The Serbian manager, appointed in December 2015, had criticised his players in the wake of their Huddersfield defeat but turned his ire on the officials after the game at Anfield, where Fulham had a goal marginally disallowed and then conceded one 14 seconds later as Liverpool took a free kick when the ball was moving.
“Instead of 1-0 up we’re 1-0 down,” he said.
“In this country normally you cannot show disrespect to the referee and this is a problem because it’s shown disrespect to my team, myself and Fulham supporters.
“We are frustrated, disappointed. We make half step forward and if team is showing desire and organisation and positive way to find better performance, we can find better solution.”
All he would say on his own position, however, was, “I don’t think of the rumours. I am not talking about my situation.
“My team need improvement and show positive step, I am thinking about my team, full of confidence. Push hard and that’s it.”
If there is to be an improvement, it may have to be at Craven Cottage, the homely little stadium on the banks of the River Thames. Fulham’s next away games are at Chelsea and then Manchester United.
($1 = 0.7707 pounds)
Reporting by Steve Tongue; editing by Clare Fallon