An emotional Scott Parker described Fulham’s play-off victory over local rivals Brentford as his ‘proudest moment’.
The former Fulham captain, in his first job in senior management, has achieved what few thought possible and returned the Whites to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Parker, who appeared to be in tears after the final whistle, spoke movingly to Sky Sports about the emotional rollercoaster of being a football manager and just how impressed he has been with the resilience of the squad he has nurtured at Craven Cottage.
It’s my proudest moment by a long way. I’m proud of my players and proud of my team – I’ve seen the team grow along a journey which has been tough this year. I’m the one that goes and fronts it up and the players are the same.
But underneath it all there’s a support mechanism. I’m speaking about my family and closest friends. At times this year it’s been difficult – very tough. I couldn’t do what I’ve done for the last year – there were times I definitely would have broke – without them.
And I’ve got an amazing staff and an amazing network around me that make me feel strong when I’m at my weakest. That’s why I’m emotional and proud. I hope this is something for all those people that makes them realise it was worth it.
Parker admitted that Joe Bryan’s audacious opener – a 35-yard free-kick that surprised David Raya at his near post – was a pre-planned move that he urged the full back to try in a brief touchline discussion before the set piece was taken.
We did our due diligence on the goalkeeper. He has got a very aggressive high starting position on free-kicks. We brought it up in a set-play meeting. I called Joe over because I felt when we brought Mitro on Joe was probably going to cross it in. I tried to bluff it a little bit and I told him to commit to it, to give it a real go and see what happens. He’s executed it well. We tried this in the last game, and it went nowhere near the goal, but thankfully it has worked. My staff deserve full credit for that and the planning they did.
He also assured Fulham fans that wholesale changes would not be the order of the day after the Whites secured promotion – a change in approach after Fulham’s free-spending two summers ago disrupted the heart of the side that had gone up and resulted in a rather gutless capitulation in the top flight.
You can’t build teams with drastic changes, drastic swings of players. This team has been around myself now for the best part of 15 months and they have improved and improved and improved. I’m happy with where we are. We are going to need additions – we are going into the biggest league there is – but no real drastic changes.
Some clear errors were made last time and we will learn from that, we need to learn from that. We are going into the best league in the world, the best players, it’s a brutal league and I realise the challenge ahead. I want to try and enjoy what we have done so far but we need to learn from those mistakes. What we’re trying to build and ingrain in the players and this football club is some core foundations. If you’re not building your club on concrete but sand, it will be that rollercoaster ride.