Injuries played a part in the Cottagers' drift down the Third Division table in the winter of 1996. Branfoot stepped aside for player-coach Micky Adams to take on team responsibilities while became general manager, and results improved.
As a manager, Adams was an unknown quantity. His appearances as a player for Fulham had been restricted by injury, but in a long career (with Gillingham, Coventry, Leeds, Southampton and Stoke) he had gained experience at every level.
His 18 months at the Cottage before becoming manager, moreover, had given him the knowledge he needed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad.
After succeeding in his initial task of lifting the club away from the depths of the Third Division table, he then turned his attention to winning promotion in 1996-7.
During the summer he made some astute signings (for free or very small fees) and changed the tactical formation. More importantly, he instilled a belief and self-confidence amongst the players that was evident from the start. Despite a few nervous moments early in the new year, the Cottagers were never out of the top three in the table and only missed the title by a point.
For Adams, guiding Fulham to their first promotion for 15 years had been a very satisfactory managerial debut but the ground rules shifted in the summer of 1997 when the ownership of the club changed hands yet again. The emergence of Harrods as Fulham's new parent put the club in the spotlight. Adams had just eight games in charge the following season before he was replaced by two high-profile names that matched the owners' high-profile ambitions for the club.
For Adams, 1997-8 was a geographically confused season. He started with Fulham, moved briefly to South Wales to manage Swansea before returning to west London to take charge at Brentford. Another takeover meant he was packing his bags again, heading into the Premiership for a brief spell with Nottingham Forest.
Adams was back doing what he does best last season, winning promotion, this time with Brighton & Hove Albion. He is fondly remembered by the Club and its supporters as the man who started our upturn in good fortune, and is truly a part a Fulham's success story.