Parker hails Fulham transformation and promises ‘no drastic changes’

Scott Parker has hailed his team’s ‘transformation’ after gaining promotion to the Premier League in his first season in charge as Fulham boss.

The Whites beat local rivals Brentford in dramatic fashion in the Championship play-off final on Tuesday, which Parker described as his ‘proudest moment in football’, as they prepare for an immediate return to the top flight.

Having ended the 2018/19 season 19th with 81 goals conceded and only 26 points, the former Fulham captain steered his side to a fourth-place finish in the Championship, equal on points with the Bees.

And, under much pressure from outside, Parker believes he has steadied the ship.

“Fifteen months ago, this team was a team that lost most weeks,” he said.

“Everyone could see that from the outside, you could easily judge that. We let in a lot of goals. What people didn’t see, and what people don’t understand, was a deep-rooted issue at the football club, which had some real open wounds.

“Along the way, we’ve pushed and pushed and pushed, trying to change the mentality and having a real way about us because we knew how important it was. But also trying to balance that with the expectation of winning the league by 20 points.

“I’m proud because I see a team that has transformed. I also see a team that is still learning and still growing, and we still need to improve. I just feel proud at the moment.”

Joe Bryan scored both goals in Fulham’s Wembley win

He added: “We’re going into the best league in the world, with the best players and the best teams. It’s a brutal league and I realise the challenge ahead. I don’t really want to think about it at the moment, because I want to try and enjoy what we’ve done so far.”

Tuesday’s play-off final win at Wembley was Fulham’s second in three campaigns, with their previous Premier League arrival heralded by a new-look £100 million squad.

Only four players from the 2018 final starting eleven lined up in the following season’s opener, which was a mistake that Parker is keen for the club not to repeat.

“You can’t build teams with drastic changes,” Parker continued. “You can’t do that. This team have been around myself now for the best part of 15 months. They’ve improved, improved, improved, and there’s a lot more improvement to be done, for sure. But I’m happy with where we are.

“Of course, we’re going to need additions – we’re going into the biggest league there is. But no drastic changes.”