Fulham manager Scott Parker has called on his players to use the club’s final five matches of their Premier League campaign as a platform to build on for next season’s return to the Sky Bet Championship.
In the wake of the Cottagers’ relegation being confirmed at the start of the month with a 4-1 defeat at Watford, Parker accepts changes will be made during the closed season, and players will leave.
Parker believes, however, it is imperative the right attitude and mindset are adopted now that will at least stand Fulham in good stead come August.
‘We have five games left in a division which is one of the best in the world, and also we have half an eye on next season,’ Parker said in a press conference to preview Saturday’s visit of Everton to Craven Cottage.
‘Of course, we want to win games now, we want our fans to have a little bit of pride in what we do.
‘At the same time understand that this is an important time for this football club, this team, this squad, to certainly build and look to next year and have a massive impact.’
The defeat at Watford stretched the club’s losing run to nine games, with the last five under Parker since he took caretaker charge.
While his own future is uncertain, he recognises the fans have a part to play in the club moving forward.
Parker said: ‘It’s a cliche but the fans are the most important people at a football club.
‘When a team gets relegated, there’s uncertainty – players leave, people lose their jobs – but there’s always one mainstay, and that’s the fan.
‘I hope their vision is my vision.
Okay, it’s been a disappointing year but in football, as quick as you have a disappointment, you’re around the corner to a high, hopefully.
‘We dust ourselves off and look forward, to win football matches and to have half an eye on next year, which is a tough division.’
Ahead of the clash with the Toffees, Parker cannot fault the attitude of his players who, for the last 10 days, have had to come to terms with relegation.
‘We’ve had a really good week, put in some good work, and I sit here in a place where I feel confident the players have prepared right for a very good side,’ assessed Parker.
‘If I guarantee, which I can, a Monday looks how I want it to look, a Friday looks how I want it to look, I go into Saturday with full confidence.
Believing in that process and culture is the most important thing. ‘
Striker Floyd Ayite faces a late fitness test on a muscular injury after only returning to training on Thursday.
Defender Alfie Mawson, midfielder Lazar Markovic and goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli are all out.