When former Fulham owner Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the club to the 490th richest person in the world, Shahid Khan, fans at the Craven Cottage could have been forgiven for possessing mid-table aspirations. As it turned out, the season descended into a complete farce; ironically, Khan who was initially seen as a saviour from Al-Fayed's underinvestment, had turned out the be main reason Fulham went down.
Right from the get go, Fulham were plagued with inconsistencies off the pitch that translated onto the pitch and they all stemmed for Khan's meddling.
Despite his riches, Khan did not invest in the aging Fulham squad that lost 17 games the previous season (1 less than 17th placed West Brom this season), therefore making the sacking of Martin Jol all the more stranger.
An even stranger decision was to appoint former Manchester United assistant Rene Muelensteen as the Fulham boss. Not to knock Muelensteen, it is obvious to see why an assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson was highly sought after, but to expect an assistant manager accustomed to winning trophies to steer Fulham away from relegation is foolhardy on paper. In actuality that was the case too as Fulham's form under Muelensteen dipped even further.
This prompted Khan to dip into his pockets in the January transfer window and correct the mistakes made in the summer window. In came seven players, including £11 million in-form striker Konstantinos Mitroglou. Immediately the team started to perform better, getting an improbable draw against Manchester United and pushing Liverpool all the way in a narrow 3-2 loss.
Just as things were picking up, in came Khan to send it crashing down by sacking Muelensteen - just two days after the Liverpool game. To be fair, this was the one decision that can be justified somewhat, results under the new manager (Felix Magath) were the best Fulham managed all season:
Martin Jol - 10 points in 13 games
Rene Muelensteen - 10 points in 13 games
Felix Magath - 12 points in 12 games
Nonetheless, that only begs the question: why wasn't Magath appointed Fulham manager immediately after Jol was fired in December? Magath, unlike Muelensteen, had a reputation for saving teams like Fulham and turning them into respectable sides all within the space of a months in charge. He had also been a free agent since 2012; with Magath's managerial know-how and Khan's riches, mid-table was definitely on the cards if the right choices were made at the right time, especially given the close nature of the league this season.
Furthermore, the chopping and changing played havoc on Fulham's players. Darren Bent, initially brought in to solve Fulham's dependency on Dimitar Berbatov, was dropped by Muelensteen and completely given the cold shoulder by Magath. Only Satha Riether and Steve Sidwell started over 30 games for Fulham this season.
It is easy to theorize what could have gone differently, at the end of the day, with Fulham releasing nine first team players including: Brede Hangeland, Damien Duff and Steve Sidwell, gaining promotion back into the Premier League will be far from easy.