‘I learned a lot this year’, says Fulham boss Scott Parker
Scott Parker says he has “a million percent learned” from Fulham’s Premier League campaign, even though it has ended in relegation.
Fulham who take on the team they at one point looked likely to catch, Newcastle, in their final game of the season on Sunday, saw their return to the Championship confirmed with three games left.
Parker’s side started the season looking destined for the drop, conceding 10 goals in their opening three matches, but over the winter they managed to close a 10-point gap to safety to just two points behind the then 17th-placed Magpies.
However, a run of just one point from seven games following their shock win at Liverpool in early March sealed their fate.
“A million percent I’ve learned,” Parker said ahead of the Newcastle clash. “I’m always going to learn. That’s the way it is.
“I hear people often talking about inexperience of managers or players even – ‘There is not a lot of experience, they are still learning’.
“But the day I stop learning is probably the day I stop doing this job. It was the same as a player. At 34 years of age, with 400-odd appearances in the Premier League, I was still learning.
“There were still things coming to me that I didn’t remember or I had never seen before. That’s going to be the same in anyone’s walk of life.
“Of course experience gives you more, of course it does. You can revert back to them. But the world is evolving so quick.
“If you are surprised by the latest gadget that’s out or the new training technique, the new whatever, then that’s the day you stand still.
“I learned a lot this year, like I learned a lot last year. But I think that will forever be the case to be honest with you.”
Fulham have relied heavily on loan players this term, signing seven over the course of the campaign, all of whom have played prominent roles, with Joachim Andersen acting as stand-in captain for the majority of the season due to Tom Cairney’s lengthy injury lay-off.
Another stand-out loanee was goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who arrived from Paris St Germain. He has made 116 saves, keeping nine clean sheets, in the league, and his form has even earned him a recall to the France squad.
“He’s been absolutely superb, a top keeper, unbelievable goalie on the pitch in what you see, an elite athlete, an elite professional,” Parker said of the 28-year-old.
“You can tell instantly the calibre of players and clubs he’s been around, the way he acts and the ways he holds himself.
“We’ve given the loan players here a platform, improved them, given them the game time they needed. They’ve done very well for us, they’ll leave here feeling in a good place.”