Fulham’s 16 seasons under Mohamed Al-Fayed

Mohamed Al-Fayed

After Mohamed Al-Fayed has sold Fulham Football Club to Pak-American billionaire Shahid Khan, here is a look at what the Egyptian businessman achieved during his 16 years at Craven Cottage:

Takeover

Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased Football Football Club in the summer of 1997 following their promotion as runners-up of the Third Division (fourth tier), finishing below Wigan Athletic, for a fee of £6.25 million.

First season

Micky Adams had successfully guided Fulham to promotion in the season prior to Al-Fayed’s takeover, but the former Fulham player was quickly ousted from his position as manager following a poor start to the 1997-98 season.

The duo of Ray Wilkins and Kevin Keegan took charge, with the former resigning in May 1998, leaving the former Newcastle United manager in full control of the team.

Promotion from Division Two

Chris Coleman was signed for £2 million from Blackburn Rovers – making him the most expensive player in the division. Paul Peschisolido was also brought in from West Bromwich Albion for £1.1 million.

The team collected 101 of a possible 138 points in 1998-99 as they ran away with Division Two (third tier) – 14-points ahead of runners-up Walsall.

Players in the side that season including a number of ex-Premier League players; Maik Taylor, Philippe Albert (loan), Rufus Brevett, Coleman, Alan Neilson, Kit Symons, Gus Uhlenbeek, Ian Selley, Alan Neilson, Paul Bracewell, John Salako, Paul Bracewell, Paul Trollope, Peter Beardsley and Paul Moody.

First season in Division One

Additional talent was added at the end of the millennium as Jean Tigana replaced Kevin Keegan early in the season and guided Fulham to a top-half finish in the second tier of English football. Marcus Hahnemann, Lee Clark, Bjarne Goldbæk and even Karl-Heinz Riedle were all on the books by now.

Promotion to the Premier League

Jean Tigana’s first full season in charge at Craven Cottage saw the Cottagers runaway with the title, finishing the season with 101 points – 10 ahead of runners-up Blackburn Rovers.

Louis Saha had been signed from Metz that summer (after a brief spell at Newcastle during 1998-99) and the French striker would top score for both Fulham and the league with 27 goals.

In the top flight

Fulham had reached the promised land in four seasons under Mohamed Al-Fayed’s ownership. An eight-game unbeaten sequence between October and December was a big part in avoiding relegation – finishing 8 points above the drop zone in 13th position.

Their team, which included £7.1 million goalkeeper from Juventus, Edwin van der Sar, lined up predominately like this:

Edwin van der Sar (£7.1m from Juventus)
Steve Finnan (£600,000 from Notts County)
Alain Goma (£4m from Newcastle United)
Andy Melville (free transfer)
Rufus Brevett (£375,000 from Queens Park Rangers)
Steve Marlet (£11.5m from Olympique Lyonnais)
Sylvain Legwinski (£3.3m from Bordeaux)
John Collins (£2.5m from Everton)
Stead Malbranque (£4.5m from Olympique Lyonnais)
Barry Hayles (£2m from Bristol Rovers)
Louis Saha (£2.1m from Metz)

Over a decade in the Premier League

Since their first season in the Premier League, Fulham have established themselves in the division – narrowly avoiding relegation in 2007-08 before finishing the following season in 7th – their best finish to date.

2013-14 will be Fulham’s thirteenth consecutive season in the Premier League and their first without Mohamed Al-Fayed at the top.

Martin Jol is currently in charge and heading into his third season at the helm. The Dutch manager, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur is only the sixth permanent manager to take charge of Fulham in the Premier League.

List of Fulham Premier League managers

Jean Tigana (2001-03)
Chris Coleman (2003-07)
Lawrie Sanchez (2007)
Roy Hodgson (2007-10)
Mark Hughes (2010-11)
Martin Jol (2011-current)

Fulham Premier League managers

Roy Hodgson has the highest win percentage of the six – he whom was in charge when he guided Fulham to their 7th place finish in 2008-09, only Fulham’s second top-half finish in the Premier League. The following season, Hodgson took the Cottagers all the way to the UEFA Europa League final, losing to Atlético Madrid.

Michael Jackson statue

Controversially, Mohamed Al-Fayed commissioned a statue of pop singer Michael Jackson to be erected outside Craven Cottage, overlooking the River Thames in April 2011.

In an interview with the BBC, Al-Fayed called the fans “stupid” and that they could “go to hell” if they did not like the statue.

Wembley Stadium has a statue of World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore. Old Trafford has statues of Manchester United legends George Best, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson. Pride Park has a statue of Derby County’s 1971-72 league winning duo of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. Fulham have a statue of Michael Jackson.

Just look at the statue, can you blame the Fulham fans for feeling embarrassed by the statue outside their stadium?

Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage

Fulham Premier League positions

Fulham have finished between 7th-14th in ten of their 12 Premier League seasons.

Fulham Premier League seasons