Free-falling Fulham on course for the drop

Could it be unlucky 13 for Fulham this season as they battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League? It is certainly beginning to look that way as a porous defence and inadequate strike force is combining to sink the Cottagers back towards the second tier of English football for the first time since 2001.

In their 12 previous seasons in the top-flight, Fulham’s only real flirtation with the drop came in the 2007-08 campaign when Lawrie Sanchez’s negative football had them hurtling towards relegation only for Roy Hodgson to arrive midway through the campaign.

Even then, it needed three successive away victories – at Reading, Manchester City and Portsmouth – to save Fulham from the drop, Birmingham, Reading and an appalling Derby County side going down instead.

Since then mid-table finishes have been the norm, with the amazing run to the Europa League final in 2009-10 helping to keep fans who bet on football content.

But this season has been different. Before the campaign had even started there were whispers that Martin Jol had too many fancy dans in his squad with too few midfield grafters and not enough balance in his team.

The acquisition of Adel Taatabt on loan from QPR seemed to be a luxury Fulham couldn’t afford seeing as they already had within their squad the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz.

And so it has proved. Jol has gone, with Rene Meulensteen replacing him in December, but results have not improved despite the arrivals of experienced campaigners Alan Curbishey and Ray Wilkins to help the Dutchman out.

Heavy defeats to teams that are likely to be fellow relegation favourites in the football betting come April and May – 6-0 at Hull City and 4-1 at home to Sunderland – point to only one thing, a return to the Championship after a 13 year absence for the hapless Cottagers.