Fulham relegation from Premier League confirmed after Watford defeat
Watford secured a 4-1 win at Vicarage Road to seal Fulham's fate
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 03/04/19 10:31am
Fulham's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed on Tuesday night after a ninth straight defeat at Watford.
Ryan Babel equalised for Fulham after Abdoulaye Doucoure scored Watford's opener as Scott Parker's side produced a spirited first-half display at Vicarage Road.
But they eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat as Will Hughes, Troy Deeney and Kiko Femenia scored during a blistering 12-minute spell.
"I'm just gutted for the fans," caretaker manager Scott Parker said. "It was 12 months ago since we got into the division, and from the outset this year it's been bitterly disappointing for everyone.
"The fans are the ones who pay their hard money to come and watch the team. There's certainly been times this year when the team haven't given back what they deserve. Personally, I'm really sorry for that."
The Cottagers were the third biggest Premier League spenders last summer as £105.3m was spent on 12 new players following promotion from the Championship.
Indeed, the west London club became the first newly-promoted team to smash the £100m transfer threshold in a window.
But Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked in November and immediately replaced by Claudio Ranieri after a run of one win from the opening 12 league games left Fulham bottom of the table.
Ranieri's arrival was heralded by owner Shahid Khan as a "risk-free" appointment but the Italian was sacked after less than four months in charge at Craven Cottage having managed just three wins in 17 matches in all competitions.
Parker was placed in caretaker charge - but with the side already 10 points from safety following four successive Premier League defeats, the former midfielder was always facing an uphill task prolonging the club's return to the top flight beyond one season.
Subsequent defeats to Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City placed Fulham on the brink of the drop - and that has been confirmed in Hertfordshire.
Parker was non-committal on his future, reiterating that his position will be assessed in the summer with his focus remaining on Fulham's remaining five games in the Premier League.
"I think we all understand that there are some clear issues that need to be addressed like when any team get relegated.
"There have been problems and obviously some mistakes have been made. We'll sit down in the coming weeks and work out what they were and try and learn from them."
Fulham will be joined in the Championship next season by Huddersfield, whose two-year stay in the Premier League was ended last weekend.
Jan Siewert's side needed to win at Crystal Palace for their destiny to remain in their own hands, but their 2-0 defeat to Roy Hodgson's side on Saturday sealed their fate before the start of April.
Fulham fans will be scratching their heads. In just nine months, the club has somehow managed to go from a progressive, free-flowing side full of talent to one that has long since seemed doomed to relegation, despite spending over £100m in the summer transfer window.
Slavisa Jokanovic - who masterminded that promotion - was booted out four months into the campaign and replaced by Premier League winner Claudio Ranieri. He lasted just 106 days and could not save a sinking ship.
On many occasions this season Fulham have competed for large chunks of games but a defensive error has cost them dear. In the Premier League you simply cannot gift opposition clear-cut chances. Only Rochdale (77) in the top four tiers of English football have conceded more goals this season than the west Londoners (76).
Scott Parker wants the role next season but whoever is tasked with rebuilding Fulham in the Sky Bet Championship has some big decisions to make in terms of recruitment and reshaping a losing mentality within the club. (Lewis Jones)
Fulham's downfall in numbers
Big-spending, goal-shipping Fulham are down. These stats show just how it happened...
Fewest points when relegation confirmed
|Aston Villa 2015/16||16|
Most goals conceded after 33 games
Most money spent in summer window
Most players signed in summer