Fulham host Swansea City in the Championship tonight.
Scott Parker’s side are now winless in three league games and go into tonight’s game at Craven Cottage in 4th-place of the Championship table, after Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 win at Cardiff City last night.
Fulham had hit some of their best form under Parker through the festive period and into New Year, and did tremendously well to close an impossible 11-point gap to Leeds.
They had the chance to keep the heat on the top two when they hosted Barnsley earlier in the month, but a 3-0 defeat to the bottom-club has heaped a whole load of built-up pressure on Parker.
A 1-1 draw at Derby County followed, a point picked up after going a goal behind, and against a side who are formidable at home. Speaking to www.fulhamfc.com about his side’s recent form, Parker said:
“We went into the match after a very poor result against Barnsley, which to concede three goals at home was disappointing. I don’t think we covered ourselves in much glory in that sense.
“Probably over the last weeks, it’s probably gone away from the way I really want us to play and control games because ultimately, I want us to also win games.”
Derby had taken the lead soon after the restart when Tim Ream handled the ball inside the penalty box, and Wayne Rooney stepped up on his 500th league appearance in England, and scored a panenka penalty past Marek Rodak.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the equaliser, and dragged Fulham through yet another tough outing.
“We got a reaction,” explained Parker. “We limited Derby to very few chances but the flip-side of that is, and probably the one thing we needed to improve against Derby was the speed of the ball at times.
“Certainly first-half I felt that as much control as we had we didn’t cause them many problems and probably the team I saw when we went a goal down was the team I like us to be.”
Fulham are still in with a very real chance of promotion this season. West Brom and Leeds look like they could yet run away with it but Fulham have closed the gap once already, and they’ll need to be at their very best to do it again.
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“Every game now from the run-in, 12 games, 18 hours of football. It’s big for us and no bigger than Swansea at home,” said Parker. “Then we’ve got Preston so after last week at home and the result we got, and the way we performed, we need a performance tonight. first and foremost we’ll try and get a result.”
Swansea, like Fulham, are a side that have experienced both a new, young English manager this season and subsequently mixed results. They started the season better than anyone but have since been inconsistent. They remain in contention for a play-off spot though, and Parker knows how tough tonight’s fixture will be:
“Good side,” Parker said of Swansea. “Started the season very well, and on their day can cause a lot of teams a lot of problems, so we’ll respect that as always. I think tomorrow night solely needs to be about us and what we do and really put our mark on the game.”
Anything but a loss tonight would heap even more pressure on Parker. He’s done well so far but results are starting to fade at just the wrong time, and a return to winning way tonight would instil a lot more confidence in the players and fans alike.