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Ryan Babel said he knew Scott Parker could make it as a top football manager as soon as he arrived at Fulham – from the quality of his training sessions at Motspur Park.

Parker, who took his coaching badges at the tail end of playing career at Craven Cottage, was appointed to Fulham’s coaching staff by Slavisa Jokanovic in the summer of 2018 and was leading most of the first-team sessions when Babel arrived at the club the following January during the short-lived tenure of Claudio Ranieri.

The 33 year-old immediately knew that the former England captain, who guided Fulham back to the Premier League at the first attempt by winning the play-off final earlier this month, would eventually be a succcess in management – even if the speed of his development has been a surprise. He told the Mail on the Sunday:

He would do a lot of training sessions and already then I could tell, with the way he coached the players, that he would become a manager. Of course, at that point I didn’t know the manager role was going to come so quick for him, but you can always tell if an assistant coach or manager understands football in the way you hope he does.

I felt like he gave the older players, including me, the responsibility to speak to the younger players and help them out. That also gives the older players confidence because it makes you feel like he sees you as a grown-up. He has been able to put his influence on the team. They were unable to show it in the Premier League but he finally had time to make sure the team understood how he wanted to play. This is the reward for him.

Babel, who has been linked with a return to Craven Cottage this summer as he considers whether to leave Galatasaray, spoke in glowing terms about his time in London.

I fell in love with Fulham the first week I was there. Not only because they were great people but the way the whole club bonded with each other. For me it was pretty new to see, at the training ground, that you have lunch with also the people who work in the office. Everyone taking food from the same buffet, having conversations with each other. Normally with teams, I feel like they always try to separate the first team from the rest.

I built great relationships there. If I couldn’t watch the games, I had it on LiveScore. To see the final game, how they won it, gave me a satisfying feeling to see them come up again.

He felt that Fulham’s lavish spending following their play-off final victory over Aston Villa two summers ago had ended up making communication on the pitch difficult.
What I noticed was you had a lot of different types of players from different nationalities. If you have two centre-backs who cannot communicate with each other because they do not speak the same language then you know there is going to be miscommunication. I could sense the bonding was not on point to a level where we could show we could do it as a team