So the summer’s most soporific managerial saga has finally come to an end. Scott Parker has got his move to Bournemouth and Fulham are searching for a successor less than five weeks before their Championship campaign is due to get underway. To say that is less than ideal is something of an understatement.

Parker polarised opinion amongst the Fulham fanbase. I shan’t be attempting to analyse his reign here, but the quality of the football he oversaw and the way Fulham collapsed in the final ten games having engineered an opportunity to remain in the top flight – a scenario that seemed unthinkable in the early weeks of the season – makes me wonder if a change is such a bad thing. This Football 365 article summarises why Fulham might be well served by having a fresh face in the dugout.

There are clearly deeper structural issues to solve at Craven Cottage as well. Shahid Khan’s stern words at the conclusion of Fulham’s statement announcing Parker’s departure barely disguised his disappointment at the manager’s eagerness to jump ship, but a clear-eyed assessment of how the club has managed to yo-yo so consistently between the top two divisions in recent years in long overdue. That must include a look at whether Tony Khan is the most suitable figure to fulfil the vital director of football role but whether that discussion has taken place in Jacksonville is anyone’s guess.

I’ve written before about the opportunity Fulham have to optimise the biggest asset at their disposal – the Category one academy that continues to churn out terrific young talent and the expertise of Huw Jennings – and a progressive manager with a track record of bringing through young players would seem to be the perfect fit. That’s why the suggestions of Steve Cooper being Fulham’s frontrunner seem to make a lot of sense.

At first glance, the descriptions of Cooper’s cautious football in south Wales might have those sick of what they’ve come to see as ‘Parkerball’ seeking a lie down in a dark room. But his achievements in his first job in senior management – guiding Swansea to two sets of play-offs whilst having to sell their prized assets – shouldn’t be underestimated. If Cooper has had to adapt his tactics in order to grind out results, then that should viewed as a positive given that the objective is get out of a highly competitive league as quickly as possible. I’d also cast doubt on the idea that a man who counts Jose Segura as his major influence would adopt a wholly negative approach.

It is perhaps Cooper’s roles in nurturing young talent at the Liverpool academy and as the coach of England’s under 16 and 17 sides that are as interesting too. He had the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling under his wing in their formative footballing years as his under 18s reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2013. His work with the England youth set-up was revolutionary – famously winning the Under 17 World Cup with Steven Sessegnon a key part of his team in 2017 – and the most telling part of his discussion of that role is how he sees his job as a ‘facilitator’ of modern players. He views management very differently to some others in the profession. ‘The days are gone, for me, where everything is the coach telling the player, that’s finished’.

Of course, managerial searches are never easy – just ask Daniel Levy or Mike Rigg, who conducted a seemingly endless pursuit of Kit Symons’ successor before the club settled on Slavisa Jokanovic. I’m sure most Fulham fans feel pretty jealous of Blades’ fans preparing for a season of the Serbian’s very watchable brand of football. New names seem to be floated every day at the moment and I’m certainly not relying on the betting markets to offer any clarity, given the miniscule size of any ‘next permanent Fulham manager’ market. I can’t see Chris Wilder being particularly keen to work under a director of football but his record shouldn’t be unduly tarnished by what happened at Sheffield United last season – especially as he has delivered impressive results wherever he has managed.

The bottom line is that whoever is appointed probably will inherit a strong squad at Championship level. It is interesting to read in Peter Rutzler’s recounting of Parker’s last days at Motspur Park that the now departed manager and the club hierarchy vehemently disagreed on the size of the surgery that would be required on the playing staff over the summer. The suggestion that Parker would have been happy to allow Aleksandar Mitrovic to leave the club is not a surprise given how the Serbian striker was criminally underused last season but seems genuinely baffling given how prolific he was in the Championship.

There will obviously be outgoings as Fulham adjust to the financial reality of being outside the top flight – probably several given how close the club are to breaching the EFL FFP limits. But the sheer number of players still in the first team picture should allow a new boss to field a side comparable with any other in the Championship before he considers integrating some of Fulham’s young starlets. The most reassuring thing I saw this week was Stuart Gray’s presence on the training ground as the Whites returned to pre-season training. He’s a safe pair of hands as the powers-to-be consider who will fill the hotseat next.