Scott Parker may have been Fulham manager for less than two years but the former England international feels he has already crammed five years of experience into his tenure.
The 40-year-old took over as caretaker from Claudio Ranieri in February 2019 with the Cottagers in the Premier League relegation zone and while he could not keep them in the top flight, he was handed the job on a permanent basis and victory in the 2020 Championship play-off final saw them bounce back at the first time of asking.
The 2-1 victory over Brentford was the final game of a first full season in management that was interrupted and influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, and just 39 days later the next one had begun.
A first league victory did not come until November but just as Fulham were starting to gain confidence and points with four straight draws, their matches against Tottenham and Burnley either side of New Year’s Day were postponed after a coronavirus outbreak.
If Parker keeps the Cottagers in the Premier League, it will be another milestone in his fledgling career, and the former Chelsea man believes he has already experienced things that managers with decades of experience have not – including having to self-isolate himself.
“I think certainly my first nearly two years of management, with what’s been thrown at me, has probably fast-tracked it to five years,” he said.
“I’ve experienced a lot. Experienced loads of things that a seasoned manager that’s experienced 25 or 30 years of the game has never experienced.
“I’m learning at times along the way because we have to. Learning to be flexible, learning to be dynamic and really understanding certain situations.
“It has been a tough two years, it’s been very successful at the same time so long may that continue, then I’ll be happy.”
The coronavirus crisis has presented a unique challenge to all of society and football is no different, with players having to manage not only protocols within the game but those faced by the public at large.
In another new and unusual task, Parker has had to manage the different concerns of members of his squad but he does not believe there is a right or wrong way to approach the pandemic as long as safety is the main priority.
“I think it’s all very personal to the human being, to one person and how they see it,” he said. “I see it in my squad, there are players that are a lot more nervous than other players.
“I understand the concerns, whether that’s players that have got pregnant wives or players that have got people in their family who have something underlying or certain things where they think they may struggle if they bring it back.
“Then also there are players who are concerned due to the long-term effect and there’s others that are not so, that’s just the way it is.
“As it is now, I have a broader picture because of the position where I sit and I have to understand everyone’s situation and everyone is very different.
“I don’t think there’s a wrong or right. I think what is right is that everyone takes the precautions that are necessary to stop it getting out there even more and protect everyone. That’s what everyone seems to be doing.”
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