When looking for positives in Fulham’s first season back in the Premier League after four years away, it can be comparable to finding a needle in a haystack.
Since their 2-0 defeat on the opening weekend of the 2018/19 campaign it has been one disaster after another which has culminated in the Cottagers being cut adrift from the rest of the league, with only Huddersfield Town to keep them company.
Fulham have won just four games in the top flight this season which is the second worst-record in the entire division whilst defensively they have been shambolic, conceding a total of 68 goals in 30 games.
Yet despite all the doom and gloom that has surrounded Craven Cottage in recent months, there has been at least one glimmer of hope in the form of Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The Serbian forward was signed by his fellow compatriot Slavisa Jokanovic in the summer for £27m from Newcastle United and has been a shining light in an otherwise dim season for Fulham. Mitrovic has enjoyed his best Premier League campaign to date since moving to England in 2015, scoring 10 goals in 30 Premier League games.
By reaching double figures, the 24-year-old has demonstrated an improvement in his role as a target man for the club and could be a force to be reckoned with if, as expected, the Cottagers are relegated to the Championship.
Therefore, it is imperative that Scott Parker, who took over as caretaker manager after Claudio Ranieri was sacked in February, does everything that he can to convince Mitrovic to stay at the club for the 2019/20 campaign.
If they let the forward leave, they could be risking their future at Championship level with sides such as Aston Villa, Hull City and Stoke City all demonstrating how hard it is to bounce back after being relegated. Furthermore, it is not improbable that the Cottagers could face another relegation battle if they sell Mitrovic and do not bring in the necessary replacements.
It is reasonable to say that without the domineering presence of the forward during his initial loan spell last season, Fulham would still be plying their trade in the second division. Mitrovic scored 12 goals in 20 appearances for the club who lost just twice with the Serbian leading the line.
Undeniably talented, the former Anderlecht star became an instant fan favourite as he fired his side to play-off glory alongside the likes of Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon as the London-based side achieved promotion with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.
Given his previous success with Fulham in the Championship, the decision to keep Mitrovic and sell some of the club’s under performing big money stars should be made a priority by owner Shahid Khan.
When you consider how competitive the second tier has been over the past decade, the Cottagers will need to be resilient and without the leadership of their Serbian forward, they could face an uncertain future.
What do you think Fulham fans? Has Mitrovic lived up to expectations this season in the Premier League? How vital is it that the club keeps the Serbian at Craven Cottage? Get in touch below.