Marco Silva admitted Aleksandar Mitrovic’s two goals against Crystal Palace exposed what Fulham were missing during his eight-game ban, but described the length of that punishment as “completely exaggerated.”
Fulham drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace in their final home game of the season, with Mitrovic scoring both of the Cottagers’ goals. Palace scored through Odsonne Edouard and then sealed a draw late on thanks to captain Joel Ward’s scrappy equaliser.
Having scored on his return against Southampton off the bench last weekend, Mitrovic made his first start for Fulham since his eight-match ban for shoving referee Chris Kavanagh in Fulham’s FA Cup defeat to Manchester United in March.
“He doesn’t need to score any more goals for us to be sure about [his quality]“, said Silva. “Of course he was a big, big miss for us. We, as a group and our players, ended up looking the best way we could in that situation. We did it as best we could. But obviously we are stronger with Mitro and everyone knows.
“He was out for eight games — completely exaggerated in my opinion, if you compare it with everything that has happened this season. We respect the decision, but it was clearly exaggerated. It took from ourselves our top goalscorer.”
Reflecting on the draw with Palace, Silva said: “We did start really well the game, that is true — on the front foot and pushed them back. They were compact.
“When we make some mistakes like we did first half, we start to create doubts in ourselves. We reacted, equalised before half-time, and the second half was flat. In some moments that match was too flat for a Premier League match.”
Fulham could reach a record points total of 55 for a Premier League season if they beat United at Old Trafford next weekend, and Silva is proud of his side’s season. Fulham, at the beginning of the campaign, had been tipped by many pundits to be relegation contenders, but started strongly and were threatening to qualify for Europe in the first half of the season.
“Very, very good — the season has been brilliant. This group is players have been unbelievable. Next week we can go up the league more.
“I know this football club very well. This group has been incredible in all aspects of football. The togetherness, the friendship inside, the work-rate for most of the season as well.”