Marco Silva has said he is not interested in comparisons with Fulham’s last two Premier League campaigns as he stressed the need to stay grounded.
The Cottagers had one-season stays in the top flight in 2018-19 and 2020-21, in which they were relegated with totals of 26 and 28 points respectively.
After securing promotion again last term as boss Silva guided them to the Championship title, they have gone on to reach 25 points from 17 games this term and entered 2023 in seventh place in the table.
Their two matches since the World Cup have been a 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and 2-1 win over Southampton on New Year’s Eve, and next up is a trip to Leicester on Tuesday.
Silva told a press conference ahead of the contest: “We have to keep proving our quality and playing with the same ambition. We don’t like to compare.
“We are trying to be as competitive as we can, to keep improving our players collectively and individually, and this is our aim. It is not to compare anything.
“We know we have to do much better, we knew it at the beginning of the season. If you want to be at this level, to play against the best teams in the world, in the most difficult competition in the world, you have to do completely different things and we are pleased with what we are doing, but we are just in the middle of the season.
“Of course we are pleased with the points we achieved right now, the position in the table will be a consequence always of the points.
“Performance-wise I think we are doing really well as well, and that’s it. We have to keep going, keep the feet on the ground, and prepare the next match like it’s the most important one for us, which is something we have been doing so far since we joined this football club.”
While the match against Southampton saw Aleksandar Mitrovic have a stoppage-time penalty saved by Gavin Bazunu, the Serbia international has been in superb form in general since Silva took charge at Fulham in 2021, scoring 43 league goals last season and 10 so far this campaign.
With the January transfer window now open, Silva was asked what he would say to any club interested in Mitrovic, and replied: “That I’m really pleased to have him with me since I joined, he’s really happy here as well.
“We are in the beginning, or in the middle of a process. And some positions are impossible for us to change.”
Silva emphasised he has no intention of taking Mitrovic off spot-kick duties, saying: “He’s the main (penalty-taker) until now, and the next one, he will be there again to take the penalty.”
He also said he thought the striker’s foot issue, which has not prevented him playing, was “getting better”.
Silva said there had been no discussions about on-loan Dan James being recalled early by parent club Leeds.
Silva said: “He’s still adapting at our club, it’s completely different probably style of play. Until now we didn’t speak about this possibility.
“When we signed him on loan it was for him to stay the season. Of course, from yesterday the market opened and many things can happen, but no news about it.”
Silva also said that, while there was “no news” of potential signings, the club were “trying to strengthen the squad”.