Slavisa Jokanovic said that his Fulham team “deserved” to be promoted into the Premier League after completing their impressive season with a complete performance at Wembley in today’s play-off final.
Fulham beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the final, having lost the semi-final last year, and Jokanovic spoke with a powerful sense of vindication following all his hard since leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv to join Fulham two and a half years ago.
Fulham played good football in the first half before defending well in the second half, but Jokanovic said promotion was about more than just today, it was about years of hard work and good performance.
“We didn’t just suffer in the second half, it’s about the last three years,” Jokanovic said. “It’s not easy coming to this place, trying to play with the style we have followed for the last few years. But we have shown with this style we are one of the best Championship teams. And, at the end, we can be solid, organised, and fight together for a clean sheet.”
Fulham’s style and inexperience were doubted but Jokanovic delighted in proving the doubters wrong here today now that his team have been promoted. “This was really important for us, we deserved it,” he said. “This team has shown many important things. It’s not easy to play at Wembley, under much pressure, with many young players, some 18 year olds, but we showed personality and a desire to be successful.”
There have been some tough moments over the years but all that hard work paid off today.
“I must be satisfied, this is our project, Fulham is my club, my staff, and it’s our way of trying to get promoted. In the first year it was about not getting relegated, in the second year we built the team, we didn’t get the opportunity to play here at Wembley, but this year we improved a bit more and it was important ot come back from the start of the season, which we didn’t start well. We had a great January transfer window, we brought in two or three really important players.”
Jokanovic also thanked American owner Shahid Khan for his leadership over the last few years. “Mr Khan is a great owner, a great man and a brilliant mind,” he said .”He has many important businesses, I don’t need to teach him anything, he is clever enough, as he has shown 100 times in his life.”
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