Friday 20 September 2019

Parker salutes Fulham spirit after claiming first win in caretaker charge

Goals from Tom Cairney and Ryan Babel earned victory over Everton.

Fulham caretaker manager Scott Parker applauds the fans after victory over Everton (Yui Mok/PA)
Fulham caretaker manager Scott Parker applauds the fans after victory over Everton (Yui Mok/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Scott Parker hailed the character of his Fulham players after they bounced back from Premier League relegation to secure a rare victory against Everton.

The Whites have struggled all season and an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship was confirmed with defeat at Watford on April 2.

But they picked up just a fifth league win of the season with a fine performance and a well-deserved 2-0 win over a poor Everton outfit.

Captain Tom Cairney opened the scoring with just the second Premier League goal of his career and his first since scoring against Everton for Hull in March 2010 before Ryan Babel wrapped up a rare win for the home side.

Aleksandar Mitrovic passed up a number of first-half opportunities, but Fulham struck twice in the second half to pick up their first victory since January and a maiden win for caretaker boss Parker, who praised his squad after the game.

“If ever the focus was on this team it was now. We realised the challenge ahead, staying in the Premier League, was tough,” he said.

“But once we were relegated it would have been easy… and questions have been asked of me, ‘Are your players still up for the fight or on the beach?’

“Ultimately they answered those questions. For me, the fans and everyone else that character was brought into play today and certainly the players proved people wrong and showed real fight and determination.”

It remains to be seen if Parker will be handed the job on a permanent basis and tasked with leading Fulham straight back into the top flight, but the former England midfielder was visibly pleased to earn a victory for the club.

Asked if a first managerial win had felt like a long time coming, Parker replied: “Yes, I think it did for everyone at the football club, not just me personally.

“For everyone, the players and the staff, it has been a while since we have won a match really. It was fully deserved today, we were superb from start to finish and that was the most pleasing thing.

“The result was the by-product of the work we have done in the last nine days and the preparation. The lads have been fantastic in that application, understanding and it was a big three points for us.”

Everton boss Marco Silva opted to stick with the same starting line-up which had beaten Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park last weekend.

A fourth successive victory would have been enough to take the Toffees up to seventh in the table, but the Portuguese admitted his players were not at the races at Craven Cottage.

“We didn’t perform,” he said.

“It was a bad day for us, we didn’t expect it because we were in a very good run and now is the moment for us to analyse why.

“It was a bad result for us, a disappointing result for us and a not good enough performance also.

“We expected a tough match even if they are already relegated. The feedback I gave my players is that it would be tough. Even if they lost their last four or five matches at home, it was always tough for the opponents when they came here.”

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