When Scott Parker first took over the reins at Fulham, it was a very turbulent time at the club.
Fighting a losing battle to try and stay in the Premier League, falling well short of some expectations from the start of the campaign, it was always going to be a tough task to turnaround a team that was so abject in the top flight into one that would hope to bounce straight back. There’s been a lot of positives, but certainly a few negatives along the way.
And speaking exclusively to FLW, Fulham defender Cyrus Christie opened up about what it’s been like having a relatively inexperienced manager at the club during a time when the Whites are aiming for promotion back to the Premier League.
“I think the manager’s done really well. I think probably a young manager is always going to be tough coming in especially now with the pressures and the demands of the job to succeed straight away especially at a club like Fulham who have to be in the Premier League, you want to go straight back.”
One of the hard parts of transitioning from the pitch to the dugout, as Christie points out, is having to change your approach to certain members of the team who used to be your teammates. Parker has played with a number of the current Fulham squad, especially Tom Cairney who took the captain’s armband when Parker retired in 2017, but Christie believes that he has managed to handle that transition well.
“Obviously Scotty’s not long finished playing, you know, he was there before as a player and then coming back in as a coach and now he’s got the managerial job. So I’m sure there’s kind of different aspects where you have to separate yourself from being friends previously with players to now being to being their manager, so you know, he’s come in and done well.”
It’s certainly been a bit of a wakeup call for Parker, with Fulham having had a series of freak results so far this season, perhaps best exemplified by the fact they’re unbeaten against the top two in the league, yet lost twice to the team currently sitting bottom of it by an aggregate score of 4-0.
It hasn’t been easy for Parker taking on such a big task of dealing with a team that were considered at the start of the season one of the favourites for promotion, and with that expectation comes a big target on your back for the other teams in the league according to the Irishman, which has played a big part in some of those results.
“Obviously, like everyone says there’s probably games that we believe we should have won and we haven’t won enough. We know that the other day has been tough for us as well. We are the big fish in this league and, and people want to turn up against us and beat us. You look at results of the team when they play against us, they win and then they go and play against someone else may be on par with them or below them and they end up being beat by quite a bit, so that’s definitely been tougher.”
Overall though, with Fulham currently sitting third in the league, it hasn’t been a total disaster of a season, despite what some members of the Fulham fanbase might think. It’s still a campaign that could end in promotion, even if it’s one that’s handed to them. According to Christie Part of that comes down to the kind of football that Parker has brought to the table, which he thinks will treat him well in the future.
“Scotty’s brought a style of play and he wants football to be played the right way. We’re adjusting to him and he’s adjusting to us and he’s new obviously to the managerial side us I’m sure he’s going to have a fantastic managerial career.”
This week sees the launch of Football Beyond Walls, an initiative that pairs young people and professional footballers for a game of FIFA and a meaningful conversation about their lives in lockdown.
The first footballer taking part is Fulham’s Cyrus Christie – who took on two teenagers at FIFA. You can see the results in this brilliant film. https://vimeo.com/415466197/45f135a012
Ahead of the launch, he spoke to FLW about his involvement in the initiative and his thoughts on mental health and Fulham’s promotion chances.