Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa insists Fulham counterpart Scott Parker has already earned his Premier League wings.
The 65-year-old Argentinian will go head-to-head with Parker at Craven Cottage on Friday evening as a man who is 25 years his junior and a managerial fledgling by comparison continues the process of engineering a recovery which has dragged his club firmly into the race for top-flight survival.
Bielsa, whose side won last season’s Sky Bet Championship while Fulham also secured promotion via the play-offs, has been hugely impressed by the way Parker has gone about his job this season.
He said: “He’s a manager who has earned the recognition of all those in the Premier League.
“He’s gone through difficult moments in the Championship and in the Premier League and in all of them, he’s managed to overcome them by imposing his philosophy, and the system that he uses is a very creative one.”
Leeds adjusted to life in the Premier League almost from the off, beating Fulham 4-3 in their second game and hovering in relative safety in mid-table for much of the campaign to date.
Parker’s men, however, found the going significantly tougher, winning only two of their first 22 games before embarking upon a run of three victories, two of them against Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool, in their last seven to edge themselves to within two points of safety.
Bielsa said: “The idea of the manager is reflected in Fulham’s play. In the first round, it was difficult for him to impose his style; in the second round of fixtures, they’ve started to do this a lot better.
“I remember the style when we faced them in the Championship and it’s the same style, but they’ve managed to impose it in a lot of games in the Premier League.
“Apart from that, they are a team that plays on an even keel in the majority of their games. In the games against top-six teams, they play to impose themselves and not just defend, not to avoid being beaten.”
Leeds head for London having won only one of their last six games and with Bielsa promising to prepare exactly as he did for high-flying Chelsea’s trip to Elland Road last Saturday.
He said: “I always consider the same factors: to defend better, to attack better, trying to have the ball and avoid the opponent building up sums of passes, and overcome them with energy, enthusiasm, organisation and the management of the game.
“These are some of the aspects I remember at this time, and there will be no game to which I will not apply these.”