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Championship - Football: Where can Fulham and Bournemouth improve?

Bournemouth's 1-0 victory over Nottm Forest on Tuesday sealed their return to the Premier League, ensuring they will join Fulham in the top flight.

The Cherries went into Tuesday's tie knowing that they had to win, with three points enough to confirm second place. However, a victory for Forest would have seen Steve Cooper's side climb above Bournemouth on goal difference going into the final round of fixtures.

Kieffer Moore's 83rd-minute strike proved the difference and after the initial celebrations, Scott Parker can now plan for the big time.

Fulham's place in the Premier League was confirmed on the 19th April, but they clinched the title on Monday after a 7-0 rout of Luton Town.

Championship Table

PositionTeamPoints
5thSheff Utd72
6thLuton72
7thMiddlesbrough70
8thMillwall69

Forest and Huddersfield Town have already secured their play-off spots, but Sheffield United, Luton Town, Middlesbrough and Millwall will still have something to play for this weekend, with the Blades 1/7 to finish in the top six, the Hatters 1/5, Boro 7/4 and the Lions 25/1.

The boards of Bournemouth and Fulham will not have to worry about Saturday's drama, but they do need to get to work as they try to build Premier League squads this summer.

Time for Fulham to learn from Norwich's mistakes

Norwich's relegation to the Championship was confirmed last weekend and the Canaries' fanbase will be numb to that feeling now.

They have developed a reputation of being a yo-yo club, but Fulham are not too far behind them.

Marco Silva's side have looked a cut above the rest for the majority of the season, having topped the table since mid-January.

Silva has previous experience of managing in the Premier League and while the Portuguese coach says his side belongs in the top flight, both he and his squad have something to prove.

He told BBC Sport after they lifted the Championship title: "It will be a huge challenge for us; we have to be positive.

"We have to work all together because, in my opinion, this club belongs in the Premier League. But we have to work hard to keep it this way after the season we've had in the Championship."

Target to shed yo-yo tag

Fulham need to prove it this time around, having been relegated twice in the past five seasons, only to return at the first time of asking.

Their campaign has been led by the unstoppable Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored a record-breaking 43 goals this season.

However, the powerful Serbian has failed during his previous spells in the top flight and it will be up to the board to give him the support he needs.

The Cottagers may have looked the part this season, but Silva will need to adjust his team's tactics next year. His side have played with a slow tempo throughout the year and with pressing such an essential skill in the Premier League, they will be found wanting with their current group.

New faces needed

While Norwich struggled to add real quality, Fulham will have no choice but to splash the cash, especially with Fabio Carvalho due to leave the club.

Neco Williams' loan deal from Liverpool will expire in the coming weeks, meaning Fulham already have two holes to fill. They will need to find a balance in the market, having employed contrasting transfer policies on their last two trips to the top flight.

While the likes of Harrison Reed, Harry Wilson, Tom Cairney and Nathaniel Chalobah could have what it takes to play in the top flight, Fulham lack depth, and after their previous travails, they cannot afford to let this opportunity pass them by.

Goals from midfield are crucial in the Premier League, and Fulham can not place the burden on Mitrovic, who has only scored 24 goals in 104 Premier League matches.

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Gutsy Cherries have a point to prove

In his first season in charge, Parker delivered the goods by guiding Bournemouth back into the Premier League, two years after they dropped back into the second tier.

The 41-year-old is usually calm and collected, but he finally let his hair down on Tuesday as Bournemouth celebrated their latest success.

The Cherries showed signs of panic on occasions, but Parker proved he was the man for the job by keeping his team on the right path.

His ability as a manager at the highest level has been questioned and Parker still has work to do to prove he can cut it with the best. However, he will be joined in the same boat by some of his squad.

Parker has described his players as a "special group", and Tuesday's hero, Moore, has finally got his chance to play in the big time.

Fellow striker Dominic Solanke is another who will look to hit the ground running next season after scoring 30 goals in the 2021/22 Championship campaign.

He has transformed his game under Parker and it is vital that the Cherries give their young players a chance to shine.

Strong foundations

While some of Fulham's squad are moving on, Bournemouth will be confident that they can keep hold of their stars.

Solanke and Moore will need extra help in the final third and the Dorset club will look to tap into Parker's contacts for another striker.

In midfield, they have hungry young players, with Philip Billing and Lewis Cook amongst those 25 or younger and desperate to prove themselves.

If they can sign Todd Cantwell on a permanent basis, then Bournemouth have the starting blocks for a young and energetic team.

Defensive reinforcements

In their previous spell in the Premier League, the Cherries struggled for clean sheets, but the arrival of Nat Phillips on loan from Liverpool in January has helped them improve some of the issues left over from past campaigns.

Phillips has previously shown he can play at Champions League level, so a permanent deal for the powerful centre-back should be on the cards.

Like all promoted clubs, Bournemouth will need to follow Fulham and splash the cash, but Parker's blueprint appears to be built around young and ambitious players.

That is a fantastic starting point as they try to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.

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