Fulham manager Scott Parker has insisted that there will be plenty of pressure on both his own side and Cardiff City to earn promotion back to the Premier League, when the two sides meet in the play-off semi-final.
Parker’s side have been in and around the top six for the vast majority of the regular Championship campaign and were even in with an outside chance of automatic promotion heading into the final day of the season, but Fulham have had to settle for a play-off place having finished fourth in the table.
Cardiff, meanwhile, had been as low as 15th in the table in their first season back in the Championship until Harris took over from Neil Warnock, and the former Millwall manager managed to inspire his side to a timely run to the top six following the restart to the campaign with the Bluebirds securing a fifth place finish.
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Ahead of Cardiff’s play-off semi-final first leg against Fulham on Monday, Harris had suggested that the pressure was all on Parker’s side to earn promotion – and now speaking to Fulham’s official club website Parker responded to that suggesting the Bluebirds will face equal amounts of pressure.
“I understand what Neil’s saying, but he’ll be feeling exactly the same. It’s a massive game for both of us, the expectation on both clubs is huge. But we embrace that and we look forward to this challenge that lies ahead of us; two games against a very, very good Cardiff team.
“We understand what we’re facing, but we’re looking forward to it. Neil’s done a fantastic job. Expectation at Cardiff would’ve been to be in the position they’re in now and they changed manager because of that maybe.
“Neil’s come in and got them to that position, so he’s done an incredible job. They’re an in-form team, a team which was in the Premier League only last year.”
You can certainly see what Harris was trying to do with his comments and mind games ahead of Cardiff’s clash with Fulham, with the pressure of what is at stake in the play-offs sometimes enough to get the better of sides who have been performing to a high level all throughout the regular campaign.
Over the course of the campaign Fulham were clearly better than Cardiff, and they have even recently secured a 2-0 win against the Bluebirds at Craven Cottage in the end of season run in. That though will have been swiftly put to one side by Harris’ side who have otherwise been in strong form for a while now.
In terms of the pressure, both sides came down together from the Premier League last term and Cardiff even picked up more points than Fulham, so there will of course be pressure on both clubs and it could well come down to which club handles that pressure the best over the two legs.