Parker hoping ‘wiser’ Fulham can emulate Sheffield United

Fulham plummeted to relegation from the Premier League in 2019 with five matches to go.

This time Scott Parker believes he can avoid becoming the top flight’s cannon fodder.

The newly promoted side faces a stiff test on Saturday when they host Arsenal at Craven Cottage, but Parker hopes the club can emulate the feats of Sheffield United.

The Blades under Chris Wilder scaled the heady heights to ninth in the truncated campaign, and made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – very much against the odds.

They were among the favourites for an instant return to the Championship.

Arsenal won 5-1 on their previous visit to the Cottage

This time, in a survey among Premier League fans, 18 clubs’ supporters out of 20 reckon Fulham will be demoted again. Leeds, and Fulham themselves, naturally, were the only demurrers.

That’s why Parker wants a bit of South Yorkshire in west London.

“Chris Wilder did a fantastic job last season. He brought the squad together on one page, and they’re the team we’re looking at,” he said.

The Whites manager, who celebrated an emotional night when Fulham beat Brentford in the mausoleum of an empty Wembley in the Championship play-off final, reckons the mentality of his squad will be better than the calamitous relegation in 2019.

Parker insisted: “I think we’re a wiser unit.

“The players understand it’s going to be different from the Championship where we were expected to win and challenge for promotion.

“They understand the difference between the two (leagues).

“This is going to be tougher. But the mentality, the cohesion, and desire for togetherness is going to be a big factor.

“We can’t afford two or three players to be off their game at any one given time. We need all 22 to be on it.

“We need to relish the challenge.”