“There’s always one team who makes a late run to try and sneak into the playoffs.”
This has become a famous Championship cliché, and this year the club making a late surge is Fulham.
Debutant Denis Odoi offered a sign of the flamboyant football the Cottagers would play this season, when he executed a remarkable back-flick in their 1-0 opening day victory against Newcastle.
Odoi and Scott Malone have provided energy as the full-backs, helping Fulham stay in and around the play-off spots all season.
Whilst they haven’t troubled the top six since September, Fulham have started adding more wins that their slick attacking football has deserved.
That they are currently a single point away from 6th placed Sheffield Wednesday is in no small part down to the form of Tom Cairney. After switching to a central midfield berth, Cairney’s creativity has dazzled opposition defenders, with 9 goals and assists apiece.
Another key man is fellow Scotland international Chris Martin, typically scoring goals for fun alongside skillful partner Sone Aluko. Though Martin caused a stir by refusing to play in January when Steve McClaren attempted to bring him back to his parent club.
However, aside from a mini-blip in their last two home games, Fulham have carried on winning effortlessly.
The Whites’ most impressive result saw 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon bag twice in a convincing 3-1 win at Newcastle. The wonderkid’s six goals this campaign makes for depressing reading for those of us born on the other side of the 21st century. Although at least we’re old enough and ugly enough to take consolation in a drink to drown our sorrows.
It would be a bit dangerous for fans to sing ‘West London is white’ along the Fulham Palace Road, with the Whites certainly holding the bragging rights over their local rivals for their consistent displays.
But their season will ultimately be defined in the last two fixtures. Brentford will travel to Craven Cottage looking to spoil the party, and Sheffield Wednesday away could be a winner-takes-all affair to decide the final play-off position.