Scott Parker has received mixed reviews from Fulham fans all season.
‘With the players he’s got, Fulham should already be promoted’, and ‘it’s his first season, give him time’, are the contrasting arguments surrounding Parker’s maiden full season in football management.
The ex-England midfielder was handed a two-year contract after an inspired fight against relegation lasts season, and looked set for an immediate return to the top-flight after a positive summer of arrivals, and the all-important feat of retaining Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Fulham were at their best this season through December and January where they’d somehow managed to close what was an 11-point gap to 2nd-place Leeds United.
But that gap has since re-opened after a 3-0 defeat to bottom-club Barnsley last weekend, and Parker’s whole tenure has inevitably boiled down to that one defeat.
Embarrassing as it was, Parker still has Fulham in contention for a Premier League return. Here we take a look at three times this season that Parker has proved his worth to Fulham:
After opening the month with a 3-0 defeat at home to Hull City, Fulham showed great character to come back and win their remaining four that month, claiming wins over Birmingham, QPR, Derby and Swansea.
That month, Fulham looked every bit a promotion-winning team. They looked to be finally grasping the possession game that Parker’s been so persistent with, and at times this season they’ve been a real joy to watch.
Results though have been their downfall. For all their possession and shots on target, Fulham too often can’t find ways through games that they should be winning.
January transfer window
Fulham had an impressive summer window, but their January window was just as – they sealed the permanent signings of Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby Reid, and also brought in Terrence Kongolo on-loan, who’s since been ruled out for the remainder of the season, Jordan Archer and Michael Hector.
The last signing, in particular, has proved a hit, and the quality to the signings shows that Parker recognises his squad needs bolstering, and he’s working hard to do just that.
Can you get 15 out of 15 on this Fulham quiz? Have a go now!
Fulham to their credit have been ambitious in the last few transfer windows, but how much Parker has control over that is debated. He may well have drawn up a list of targets and got the board to sign them, if that’s the case, then his recruitment has been excellent.
Win at Blackburn
It’ll go down as a bog-standard away win, but it’s a special one because it was the weekend that Fulham closed the gap on Leeds. Blackburn had only lost one of their 15 previous games at Ewood Park, but Fulham in some tough weather conditions put in an almost-perfect away performance.
They went level on points with Leeds, something which a month prior seemed impossible. That is a feat on its own and Parker deserves much more praise than he’s received for keeping his players confident, and not losing focus on the top-two.
Fulham let themselves down last weekend, but there’s still plenty of points to play for, and Parker could yet deliver Premier League football to Craven Cottage.