Scott Parker feels that the return of fans to Premier League football could hand Fulham a real boost in their battle to beat the drop.
Fulham will welcome around 2,000 supporters back to Craven Cottage for Sunday afternoon’s clash with defending champions Liverpool – the first time that the historic ground has been open to supporters since a Championship win over Preston last February. Parker, speaking to his pre-match press conference earlier this afternoon, feels having the fans back in can give his side a ‘massive’ boost.
I think it’ll have a massive impact to be fair. It’s been such a long time since the players (last played in front of fans) and the stadium has been pretty empty. For large parts of our careers as players or managers we play with fans, that’s what our game is about really, the passion and dynamic that fans bring, so we’re fortunate enough that we can have fans in our stadium this weekend and we’re looking forward to it.
During a massive part of our season, after lockdown and getting promotion, the fans weren’t there to enjoy it with the team and it probably lost a little something from that, in terms of the memories, not of course the achievements but like anything you want to share that with the fans because they’re arguably the most important people.
Parker has left star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic on the bench for Fulham’s last two fixtures, which included a surprise win at Leicester, but reiterated that the Serbian international will remain a key player as the Whites look to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
I’m sure Aleks will be the first to want to play every week but the way it is at the moment he hasn’t. But like I’ve said many times before, he’ll have a large part – like he has at this point – to play this year as well. His attitude and his professionalism will get him back into that place where he needs to be.
The Fulham boss admitted that he will be trying to nullify the strengths of Jurgen Klopp’s side as he approaches what he described as one of the most difficult games of the season, but believes recent performances mean the Cottagers can go into the fixture with confidence and belief.
We’re always confident. We are where we are in the league table, but as a team and the way we’re going and the way we drive things, we’re always confident going into every game.
Of course we understand the challenge we face. There’s no denying we’re up against arguably one of the best teams in Europe over the last 18 months. It is a massive challenge, but like last week against Man City, we’ll go into the game looking to cause Liverpool some problems. We’ll try and put our stamp on it a little bit, whilst also trying to nullify the threats they bring.