Scott Parker admitted that Manchester City are comfortably a level above his Fulham side at present – but he was pleased with how his players fought hard at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.
The Whites went 2-0 down inside the first half an hour – thanks to an early Raheem Sterling strike and Kevin de Bruyne’s penalty – and there may have been a fear that the floodgates might have opened. But Fulham tightened things up at the break, were much improved in the second half and battled hard despite seeing very little of the ball.
The Fulham boss told his post-match press conference:
City look ominous most weeks. The challenge that we faced today was always going to be there. They’re a fantastic team with big quality. I’m disappointed to go a goal down so early on. I have nothing but praise for my team in the way they stuck to it and showed a bit of courage. Once you go a couple of goals down against this team, they can put you to the sword.
I want to put a stamp on games and this division. My players and this team want to try their best to do that. I asked the players individually to put their personality on the game. A lot of teams come here, and because of the quality, the game can pass you by a bit. There’s no shame in losing against this team but there is shame in not leaving them with something. To a man my team tried to show their moments.
One of the main things was being solid out of possession. In attack to go with a split striker in Ade and Cav to try and cause their full backs some issues. They can put a choke hold on you with how aggressive they are. We changed it around in the second half and it worked a bit better for us. We were a bit braver in the second half, we tried to get more control.
Parker confirmed that the omission of Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for the second game in succession was a tactical decision:
Mitrovic isn’t injured. It’s purely how I saw the game and what was suited for the team’s personnel. That was how I saw it best to cause them problems. There will be discussion around Aleks but he has a big part to play for us this year.
He always offered praise for goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who made several fine stops with Fulham’s backs against the wall:
Every top team that comes here will know their keeper is going to have to have a big game. Alphonse had a big game today and he pulled off some big saves