Fulham midfielder Scott Parker reckons Fulham’s 30 some things can do a number on leaders Arsenal.
Relegation-threatened Cottagers have the league’s oldest team but their England midfielder says that experience can help at the Emirates – and on the run-in
Scott Parker reckons Rene Meulensteen’s 30-somethings have the experience to keep Fulham in the Premier League.
Parker, 33, says having so many veterans in the Cottagers’ squad should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness in their battle against the drop.
Struggling Fulham go to Arsenal this weekend still searching for consistency and results on the back of an unpredictable season, which has seen major managerial upheaval.
Their ageing squad includes Steve Sidwell, Damien Duff, Dimitar Berbatov, Brede Hangeland, John Arne Riise and more, who are all in the veteran stage of their careers.
But Parker believes it can only help in going to tough places like Arsenal as they all know what it takes to survive and can handle the pressure.
The Fulham midfielder said: “We are an older squad, but there is experience there and we have an understanding.
“I hear what people are saying, but, if you look at the stats and data, I don’t think there have been many games in which we have under-performed.
“Age is not a limit, it can only help. When you have been in difficult situations before, you have an understanding of what needs to be done. That can only help us.
“There are some senior players here, big characters, like Duff, Hangeland and Berbatov – they all have vast experience and have played at top clubs. It’s a positive.
“We also have some youngsters in the squad. I see it as a balance and, hopefully, that experience can help us move on.”
Parker is still bemused as to why Fulham – thrashed at home by Sunderland last weekend, victorious over Norwich in the FA Cup three days later – lack consistency.
It cost Martin Jol his job, but new boss Meulensteen is now being helped by Parker’s former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley and another new arrival, ex-Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins.
Parker believes Curbishley – one of the biggest influences and mentors in his career – can also provide much-needed experience after his long absence from management.
He said: “What Curbs will bring is that he has been in this situation before with West Ham – he will bring experience and know-how. I’m sure he will be a sounding board for the manager.
“Rene is very hands-on as a coach. He takes a lot of sessions, has a lot of input. He drills players in terms of what he wants. He is very confident. His experiences at Manchester United have brought him that confidence.
“He goes into games, preparing to win them. I am sure that is a bit different here and there are certain things that will have to change.
“The lads have taken to him really well. I think you have seen that from some of the performances since he has been here. But we still need to find that consistency. It’s the inconsistency which is why we are where we are.”
Parker is relishing the trip to high-flying Arsenal after a few feisty London derbies in his days at Spurs and West Ham.
He added: “Arsenal have been fantastic. I have always been an admirer of how they play. The criticism is that they have not won any trophies, but this year they seem to have turned a page.
“We are under no illusions how difficult it will be. We are going there to give them a good, hard game and upset them. Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea, you have to be 100 per cent. If you are, you may have a chance of an upset.”