Scott Parker says he’s ‘relishing the challenge’ of managing Fulham in the Premier League after agreeing a new contract with the club this week.
The 39 year-old signed a new three-year deal at Craven Cottage on Wednesday after guiding the Whites back to the top flight at the first attempt. He told Fulham FC TV this morning of his happiness at concluding the contract discussions and having the security to build on his early successes in the job:
“I’m delighted that we’ve come to an agreement. I always spoke last year about long-term success and how you want to build things. Someone who sits in my position you always want to have that security and have an understanding of where we need to go as a football club and probably for the bigger picture of everyone else understanding that as well. I see it only as a good thing. I’m absolutely delighted. It’s been a fantastic eighteen months since I’ve been in charge. The team, the players, my staff, everyone’s been truly fantastic really. We are now ready for the next big challenge which we all face.”
He revealed that he was very quickly back focusing on the job at hand after the euphoria of beating Brentford at Wembley in the play-off final and believes that some of the difficulties Fulham faced during a topsy-turvy Championship season could actually help as they prepare to deal with the step up to a higher level.
Around the next day you start coming down a little bit. When you’re in the season, you’re in it, you’re engrossed in it. Not just me – my staff, the players, included in that – and the way last season went, in terms of lockdown and all the different things, there were obviously a lot of stresses and the team had to show some real resolve and real character. I see a journey of a group of players from when we set out at the start of the season, we had a bit of bumps along the way, and I’ve seen a team grow with big character and grow in people as well. After the final, you go away, you spend some time with the family, you reminiscence, we’re still doing it now, sitting around tables and discussing certain moments of the season. It will be something that lives long in the memory.
Parker believes that his players have dealt well with the quick turnaround to a new campaign, praising his side for how they have thrown themselves into a truncated pre-season with real gusto:
It’s been difficult because of the turnaround. We went on a lot longer than any of the other teams in the Premier League. Obviously, getting the players back in, giving them the rest period and trying to balance that has been really, really fine margins because after a long season, I think mentally you want to give the players some respite from football and you know what you are going into this year. We needed to balance that. We’ve coped very well so far. Again, the boys have been spot on. I feel like they’ve come back refreshed, looking forward to the next challenge that we face, which is the Premier League – arguably the best league in the world, where everyone wants to be and that will be the extra drive and the motivation. We’ve worked as hard as we worked last year to get to where we want to be, we can’t let that slide away and we won’t let that happen.
The head coach also shared his excitement about being able to work with several new signings, who have all highlighted the importance of his own role in convincing them to sign for Fulham. Parker feels that the competition for places can only be beneficial and expects more new arrivals before the start of the season:
I am. We’ve brought those players in – they add experience, they add quality as well and they add competition, which at every high level environment, you need. Players need to feel the pressure, they need to feel that there’s someone on their toes constantly and we see last year in the way that we managed the team, everyone’s got a role to play. You work hard, you train well and you take your opportunity in the team. You create that vibe through competition. I’m looking forward to it, I’m sure there’s going to be some more signings come in as well, and we’re looking forward to the season.
He knows just how difficult an opening fixture Fulham have been given, facing Arsenal at Craven Cottage next weekend, but is relishing the opportunity of testing himself against another bright young manager in Mikel Arteta.
It’s a nice test, a big test against a team under new management. Mikel’s gone in and done very well. We know the quality, of course we do, we’ve seen that for many years – the personnel and quality in their team. We know that this year we’re going to face some challenges, of course we are, but like I said earlier, they are challenges which we’re relishing. At times, we need to sure a different side to us, a new face to us – but I do feel that last year and the work that’s been done so far has put us in a good position to go and face these challenges which are going to be there, so we’re looking forward to that.