July 28, 2021


travel, Always a step ahead

Scott Parker hopeful Fulham’s history of sacking managers will actually keep him in his job

2 min read

Scott Parker is convinced he still has the full support of Shahid and Tony Khan but knows he is employed by a father-and-son partnership with a history of sacking Fulham managers.

Parker’s men travel to Leicester on Monday having won just one of their first nine games after regaining the Premier League status they surrendered so meekly in 2018-19. After that they play Manchester City at the Etihad before hosting champions Liverpool.

It is not difficult, therefore, to imagine a scenario where a club that has missed its last three penalties loses all three fixtures and finds itself at the foot of the table and thereby leaves the Khans – father Shahid has been owner since 2013 and son Tony director of football operations since 2017 – with a decision to make over their manager’s future.

Yet Parker is likely to remain in his role precisely because previous partings with managers palpably failed to solve the problem.

“I understand that in my position first and foremost I need to win games,” he said. “In my head it’s not down to me, I want that bigger vision where we set some boundaries and pathways because history tells you that since the owner has been here I don’t know how many managers we have had.

“In 10 years we have probably had eight or nine managers. We have had success under Slav when he was here for three years and we got promoted. Previous to that we had relegation when he first took over and two years in the Championship when we struggled a little bit.

“I have full support from the owner. Like any walk of life it is down to the owner when they feel that in their eyes it is no longer progressing. I’m sure that will be the same here.”

‘Slav’ of course is a reference to Slavisa Jokanovic, who took Fulham up in May 2018 but was sacked five months later. Claudio Ranieri could not improve the picture significantly and Parker took over as caretaker in February 2019 and was appointed permanently despite relegation.

It had been a similar story in 2013-14 when Martin Jol, the manager Shahid Khan had inherited from Mohamed Al-Fayed, was sacked. Rene Meulensteen took over but was himself replaced by Felix Magath, who took them down.

At least Parker has something all those other managers did not: a goalkeeper with a World Cup-winner’s medal. Alphonse Areola has been borrowed for the season from Paris Saint-Germain in the hope he can inspire a defence that is lacking in top-flight experience.

“We have a keeper who has huge quality and who at times is going to have to keep us in matches,” Parker said. “He’s going to have to play out of his skin at times and pull off big saves.

“He’s a big personality, someone who is fully focused and wants to win and be the best he can be. He has seen what world class looks like.”

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