At one stage it had looked like Fulham’s 2020-21 Premier League season was going to go the same way as their previous campaign, when they suffered relegation with something of a whimper. But there have been signs in recent times that manager Scott Parker is beginning to find the winning formula for success at the west London club.
Five draws on the trot might not seem like much to write home about, but for a side battling the drop, every point is crucial, and avoiding defeat is the holy grail. Within those five draws there have been some excellent results for the Cottagers, namely holding Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to earn a share of the spoils. An FA Cup triumph over QPR after extra time gave the squad a taste for victory, and as the season edges towards the midway point, there’s hope for Fulham fans that the team can shake off the shackles of relegation and enjoy something of a rise up the Premier League table.
While every betting exchange will list Fulham among the favourites for relegation, Parker will be confident that his side has what it takes to stay up. Having been angered by the short-notice of the scheduling of the match against Tottenham, the Fulham boss was delighted with his team’s performance in the 1-1 draw at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“We had players out there today who had one day’s training.” Parker said. “What pleased me most was a desire and a passion and a real quality at times tonight. There’s a real determination and hard work from this group of players. They’ve never shied away from anything.”
Nor will Parker ever shy away from taking responsibility and owning up to his mistakes. He is a rather old-school type of coach, with a burning passion that still shines through from his playing days. There have been plenty of doubts and criticisms thrown at him since he took the Fulham job – that he is not experienced enough for the job, that he doesn’t have the managerial nous required to lead a club of such history.
But Parker has made a habit of proving his doubters wrong. He led Fulham to promotion through the play-offs last season and proved that a team can bounce back from a disappointing Premier League campaign to earn promotion once again at the first time of asking. Now, he is beginning to find his feet in the top flight, and if Fulham can continue this gradual improvement, you’d expect them to start picking up a few wins soon.
So often we see promoted sides hit the panic button early in the season, chopping and changing managers with alarming regularity in the vain hope of surviving the dreaded drop. If Fulham stick with Parker and trust him, there’s every chance he can deliver Premier League football for next season.
Indeed, there is a sense that if Parker is afforded the time at Craven Cottage, he can gradually build Fulham back up to their former glory around the mid-2000s, when they were an established Premier League side year-on-year. Parker may be old-school, but he’s beginning to get the results.