Guy Whittingham praised Aleksandar Mitrovic for ending his reign as the last man to score 40 goals in an English league season, but believes the Fulham striker will be even happier with promotion.
Mitrovic scored twice against Preston to reach the magic milestone last achieved when Whittingham had 42 points for Portsmouth in 1992-93.
And victory brought with it promotion to the Premier League, continuing Fulham’s yo-yo streak and seeing them fare better than the Whittingham side almost 30 years ago, who notably missed goals scored despite their exploits.
4️⃣0️⃣ goals for Mitro. 🤯—Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) April 19, 2022
“Obviously good memories, but the lasting memory was the disappointment of not winning promotion,” Whittingham told the PA news agency.
“That was the closest I got to a promotion, they come very rarely.”
Mitrovic’s goals have come in 38 appearances and Derek Dooley’s post-war record in the second tier (46 for Sheffield Wednesday in 1951-52) could still be within reach.
“I think there was one even longer ago who got 56 or something like that,” said Whittingham, referring to George Camsell’s 59 for Middlesbrough in 1926-27. “That’s crazy.
“(Mitrovic) needs (three goals in four games) to beat mine, so I don’t see him not doing it.”
Despite the individual accolades, Whittingham was quick to share the credit for that season with his teammates.
“You are only as good as the players around you,” he said. “He had Paul Walsh, Mark Chamberlain, Alan McLoughlin, Steve Wigley, Ray Daniel and a team where (manager) Jim Smith wanted to send crosses into the box.”
Walsh, in fact, edged out Whittingham for Pompey’s player of the season award that year after playing a key role in attack.
“I was, and rightfully so, I’ve never said anything different,” Whittingham said. “He was the fulcrum of the team that year.
“He doesn’t (mention it), he was a very humble player.”
Mitrovic has been able to thrive in what Whittingham reckons is a “very similar” team environment, with every one of his goals coming from inside the penalty area as Marco Silva’s side continue to create chances.
“He’s got (Harry) Wilson, (Ivan) Cavaleiro, (Fabio) Carvalho, all creating opportunities for him,” he said. “The players know you and you know where to make those runs.
“When your confidence is high, you wait for opportunities to come. He will have worked with those players all year, or for a couple of years, and you have those relationships. But you still have to kill those opportunities.
“The pressure is somewhat reduced because if you’ve scored that many, if you miss one, you don’t put pressure on yourself to score the next one.”
The most difficult task for Fulham, once again, will be staying in the Premier League.
The Cottagers have been promoted twice before in recent years only to fall back both times, while Mitrovic, who scored just three Premier League goals last season, has been promoted or relegated from the top flight each season. that has been. England dating back to his arrival at Newcastle in 2015.
“It’s so tough, you look at the teams that came up this year,” said Whittingham, with Norwich and Watford propping up the table and changing their managers, while Brentford’s success is the exception.
“There are no easy games and the amount of money there is now, the players you have to get, you have to try to plan, and not panic.
“But Fulham have that history of going up and down, and you look at Norwich again this season, West Brom were the same in previous years, how do you plan for that and get the right players?”