Rightly or wrongly, it looks as though Scott Parker is entering a perilous stage in his young managerial career. Just one point won from a possible 18 in the Premier League so far has left us rooted to the bottom of the table. Let me make something clear from the very start, I don’t believe that Parker should be sacked right now. It would be incredibly harsh to give a relative rookie a job, see him take us up (even if we made very hard work of it) and then sack him only a few months after. I’d personally rather that we stuck with him for now. The transfer window has barely slammed shut so he is working with a group of players only recently fully put together and the recent performances have at least looked more positive than what we saw in the first 3 games.
I’m not saying that I’m happy with how things are going. Of course I’m not. But I also don’t believe that sacking Parker right now would help us in the long term. Our problem is much more than what we see on the pitch right now. In fact, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. For me Fulham as a club are reactive and not proactive. One of the biggest lessons my old school hockey coach taught me was that if we are constantly being reactive, we will never get to press on towards our own ultimate goals. If we only focus about what the opposition are going to do at a particular moment in time then we aren’t focusing on our own game. To be successful in sport, you cannot be just focusing on the next fire to put out. No, to be successful you have to ensure that the fires don’t get lit in the first place. I’m not talking about Parker and his tactics here, I’m talking about the thoughts and processes that went in to putting together this particular squad. Now I know that’s perhaps an oversimplified way to think about it, but I believe that the point stands. We need a proactive approach that is built on planning and sacking Parker right now would once again highlight the reactive and not proactive approach of our owners right now when it comes to matters on the pitch. If we were proactive, the planning into our squad would be much better. If we were proactive we wouldn’t have left it until the last minute to do business. But instead of doing that our DoF has reacted to the poor opening performances and scrambled to bring players in at the last minute and has needed them to perform like a well oiled machine instantly.
This has been the approach at Fulham for years and it has resulted in managers losing their jobs and often a poor choice of candidate being brought in. The Slavisa Jokanovic to Claudio Ranieri change still baffles me. You can’t turn a squad build for free flowing, attacking play into a defensively rigid, play on the counter side overnight The tactics of the two managers were the complete opposite. If we were going to replace Jokanovic we needed to have a better version of him really, not someone with the polar opposite footballing philosophy. Then if we look back further to 2013/14 we became a real laughing stock with our approach to managers. Martin Jol had until December, Rene Meulensteen had until mid-February and then Felix Magath saw us relegated. Magath himself was then sacked after a disaster of a start to the Championship campaign and then we had Kit Symons in charge as caretaker before eventually getting the job itself. In less than two years at the club, we had went through 4 managers and every appointment was unsuccessful and made with what looked like no planning.
I’m annoyed at how things are going right now. While I think Parker was always going to be a risky appointment given how inexperienced he is, I think it would be a crying shame if he became the latest managerial casualty at Fulham when the problem lies further behind the scenes. We need planning at Fulham, not firefighting. For now Parker can only do his best. It’s clear that he maybe needs a change of tactics or more than one trick up his sleeve. This is a huge test for him but he also needs to rise to the occasion. Just because I’m frustrated at things off the pitch at Fulham, it doesn’t mean that he gets off completely scot-free. Time for everyone at Fulham to up their game and give survival a real go.