Following Fulham’s hard-fought 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea, club captain Tom Cairney delivered his verdict on Scott Parker’s first match in charge.
Cairney strongly backed the 38-year-old to take over permanently at Craven Cottage, an opinion that the club’s hierarchy should take very seriously as they consider their options come next season.
In comments reported by the Evening Standard, Cairney said the introduction of Parker had returned pride to Fulham.
“If that is what he can do in a few days I wonder what he could do in six months, eight months?” Cairney said. “I would like to see him given a chance. I speak on behalf of everyone, he is so highly regarded at the club. He has been immense.”
Naturally, Cairney would be expected to laud the changes ushered in by Parker. Under Claudio Ranieri, the club captain was shunted out to the right wing, thrown high up the pitch behind the strikers, or even dropped to the bench — essentially, everywhere except his best position of central midfield.
On the weekend, with the comfort and freedom of his preferred role, Cairney bossed the show in the centre of the park. His trademark passing style returned along with his wonderful close control and ability to take on players at will, nutmegging and dancing around the Chelsea defenders with glee.
The simple, yet inspired, decision to return Cairney to central midfield is a perfect encapsulation of why Parker deserves a chance at the permanent job. A player like Cairney is integral to Fulham’s present and future, and keeping him and the likes of Ryan Sessegnon happy is a top priority for the club.
At a moment when Fulham need a return to the goodwill of last season, Parker is the perfect man to re-instill confidence among the players and implement a style that incorporates the best attributes of both Ranieri and Jokanovic.
Parker’s 4-2-3-1 formation paid dividends at the Cottage and seemed to get the best out of the group of players at Fulham’s disposal.
And as the manager inspires vital players like Cairney, it would be worth giving Parker the benefit of the doubt, and Fulham should begin seriously considering him for the permanent job if the impressive performances continue.
Undoubtedly, it is incredibly early days and the new manager bounce can be deceptive (look at Ranieri’s 3-2 win in his debut), but Parker truly seems to understand Fulham and understand the squad.
The value of that strong connection will be valuable in Fulham’s future, and Scott Parker should not be immediately discounted from taking over the job after May.