We are about to enter a crucially important phase in the Shahid Khan era at Fulham. The decision about who you want in charge of your football team is likely the most important decision to be made for any owner, particularly when the club is in a fragile position. It’s like surgery to me. Everything has to be done carefully and concisely, yet each move has to also be made with complete confidence and any mistake can be catastrophic.
For me the fatal move this season was replacing Slavisa Jokanovic with Claudio Ranieri. While I think that Slav’s days were numbered, I would rather have stuck with him than have Ranieri at the helm, purely because of just how different the footballing philosophies were of the two men. There are a heck of a lot of ‘ifs and buts’ when it comes to life in general, never mind football, and sometimes we are better just getting on with it than going down the rabbit-hole and trying to dissect every decision ever made. That’s not to say that those in charge shouldn’t be assessing, evaluating and learning, but as fans we shouldn’t worry too much about what is behind, and instead focus on the road to come.
The question now for Khan is who is his man to take the club forward following our terrible Premier League return. Arguably Khan’s only successful appointment has been Jokanovic, with Rene Meulensteen, Felix Magath, Kit Symons and Claudio Ranieri all failing to live up to expectations, some drastically worse than others. However, with five years now under his belt as the owner of Fulham I believe that lessons have been learned from each of these.
In classically Fulham fashion, we have turned in three very solid displays since our relegation at Watford at the start of the month, and have won three on the bounce with three clean sheets. When Scott Parker took over he had Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City in his first four games so losing his first four was hardly a surprise. We did get a decent reaction from the players, however, and weren’t far off taking points from the Chelsea and Liverpool games in particular. Parker has clearly had an impact.
Scott Parker understands Fulham. He knows what it is like to play for the club, and this is something that can’t be underestimated. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the heart for this job. The question for me now is does he have the head for it? We have been better since he took over, and three wins in a row is a barely believable but I feel that he got things wrong at both Leicester and Watford. I think he was outmanaged in both of those games which is a worry for me. He is still developing his own way of playing but the early signs are that he prefers a style more Jokanovic than Ranieri, something that I’d welcome at the club. My fear is that the games that we have won, not taking anything way from them individually, have been games played with no pressure. Already relegated, we have been playing for pride and while it’s great to see pride restored to an extent, it’s a different ball game entirely getting results in the Championship.
It could work, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Parker is turning a lot of heads and making a lot more fans believe in him. Clearly the players like playing for him, but we have no idea what the squad will look like come August. All we can do as fans is sit and wait.