Slavisa Jokanovic believes Fulham's promotion to the Premier League was a culmination of a great season-long campaign
Slavisa Jokanovic has called on Fulham to show ambition as they prepare for a return to the Premier League.
Tom Cairney’s goal was enough to help them see off Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on Saturday at Wembley, meaning Fulham will return to the top flight for the first time in four years.
“I know what is ahead of us,” Jokanovic said following his team’s triumph. “The Premier League is the best and most competitive league in the world and we must be clever and show the ambition of the Premier League team.
“I’m personally very satisfied because this Fulham was the project of my club and staff. The first year we were fighting not to be relegated and in the second year we started to build the team. We were unlucky last season not to have the opportunity [to play at Wembley].
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship Play-off final between Aston Villa and Fulham.
“This season we didn’t start well then we had a great January where we brought in three really important players who gave us an important push.
“[Aleksandar] Mitrovic made an important impact but [Matt] Targett has too. He gave us the opportunity to push Ryan Sessegnon further forward and now he’s our top scorer.”
Fulham dominated the first half at Wembley but had to see out the final stages with 10 men of a feisty encounter after Denis Odoi picked up a second yellow card.
Jokanovic was proud of the resolve his side showed to hold off Villa’s onslaught.
Fulham match winner Tom Cairney describes the feeling of scoring the winning goal in the Championship play-off final against Aston Villa.
“We showed with our style that we can be one of the best Championship teams,” he said. “Then we were solid, organised and fighting altogether for the clean sheet in that last 20 minutes. The team stuck together and showed great fight.
“It’s a really important victory for us and I think we deserve it after the last couple of years. It’s not easy playing at Wembley with some many young players and under such pressure, especially when Villa had so much experience. But we showed the quality and desire to be successful.”
Jokanovic also singled out match-winner Cairney after his goal fired Fulham to promotion. The club captain has had opportunities to leave the Cottagers but could now play for them in the Premier League next season.
“The last two years he has been fantastic,” said Jokanovic. “He was crucial today and is the captain of the team. He showed the quality and personality to help bring the team into the Premier League. He’s important for us and he will be there.”