Scott Parker has quietly gone about building his management career by guiding Fulham to the Championship play-offs… his win rate and in-depth preparation confirms his place as one of the best emerging bosses
- Scott Parker has quietly gone about building his management career at Fulham
- He has made a promising start after leading the second tier club to the play-offs
- Under the radar, Fulham missed out on automatic promotion by just two points
- Win rate of over 50 per cent confirms Parker is one of the best emerging bosses
Unassuming and self-effacing, Scott Parker’s never been one to go loudly about his business.
He is no shrinking violet, of course; just ask those who worked with the 39-year-old during his illustrious playing career.
With his playing days behind him, Parker’s now quietly going about building his management career. All in all, he’s made a very promising start.
Scott Parker has been quietly going about building his management career with Fulham
All in all, Parker made a promising start after guiding the Championship club into the play-offs
He leads Fulham into the play-off semi-finals against Cardiff on Monday as his first full season in management draws to a close.
It’s been an eye-opener for Parker; many highs which have been suppressed by disappointing lows. Welcome to managing in the Championship, Scott.
But under the radar, Parker led the Craven Cottage club to within touching distance of automatic promotion – missing out by just two points.
Fulham missed out on automatic promotion by two points and next take on Cardiff on Monday
The Championship is an unforgiving division, not necessarily conducive to nurturing a philosophy whilst simultaneously picking up results.
It’s credit to Parker that he’s managed to do both, managing a win rate of over 50 percent to confirm his position as one of the best emerging young bosses in the country.
In a nutshell: Parker believes in controlling football matches through possession; to build from defence and dictate the tempo by keeping the ball.
The stats are compelling: Fulham are second in the Championship for possession average (62.09 percent) and have attempted close to 24,000 passes – more than any other team in the league and top five in England behind only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Parker believes his Fulham side can control matches through possession and dictating tempo
The numbers also suggest it’s not passing for passing’s the sake: Fulham are first in the Championship for successful passes and passing accuracy in the opposition half.
It hasn’t come by chance. Parker and his staff are meticulous in their preparation; a typical working week includes five team video meetings supplemented by numerous more individual and unit video sessions.
The meetings focus on six moments of the game: in possession, out of possession, counter attack, counter defence and set pieces, for and against.
All meetings have the sole aim of how best to exploit the opponents weaknesses and impose Fulham’s style on them.
SCOTT PARKER’S FIRST FULL SEASON AS A MANAGER
62.09 % possession average – second in Championship
23,654 attempted passes – first in the Championship
First in the Championship for passes in the opposition half, successful passes in the opposition half and passing accuracy in the opposition half
Second in Championship for crosses in open play, third for touches in opposition box and first for successful passes into the opposing penalty area
Fulham rank third for key chances created, but 21st for key chance conversion
Fulham have kept 17 clean sheets this season (they kept five last season – three of which Parker was in charge)
In terms of training sessions: Monday to Wednesday is reserved for progressing tactical elements of Parker’s philosophy.
Thursday sessions focus on the pressing and defensive strategy ahead of Saturday’s game while Friday leads on in-possession shapes Parker wants his teams to make.
Having lost the opening game of the season away at Barnsley, the Fulham boss was deeply concerned by his team’s work out of possession.
He reacted by switching to 4-1-4-1 formation, which he believed would allow a greater grip on his team’s pressing game – a tactical switch that sparked a run of three consecutive wins.
The switch in formation from Fulham earlier in the season sparked a three-match win streak
The loss to Barnsley on the opening day saw Parker concerned with Fulham’s work off the ball
Parker even appears to have helped dispel assertions that Fulham are a one-man team. Without 26-goal striker Aleksander Mitrovic, the Cottagers have excelled to win five and draw one of their nine games without the Serb.
Of course, there is no hiding from the fact that Mitrovic’s impact on Fulham’s promotion hopes has been profound. Take Mitrovic out of the team and it’s very easily a different story.
In truth, Mitrovic should probably be playing top-flight football; motivating a player of that ilk can often be harder said than done.
Parker dispelled assertions Fulham are a one-man team in the absence of Aleksander Mitrovic
It’s been a crash course in dealing with egos for Parker – he looks to have past the test with flying colours.
Mitrovic can be a complex character to handle. But Parker’s dished out the rollickings – as well as cuddles – depending on the situation.
Parker’s played with the best, if there’s anyone who understands what’s needed to make it to the top then it is him. Those at Fulham say Mitrovic respects that part of Parker’s make-up.
Improving a footballer is the fundamental necessity for any coach but Parker has specifically spent time developing Mitrovic the man, spending hours with him purely on a human level.
Mitrovic has netted 26 goals this season and respects Parker due to his top flight experience
Yet, with all that said, Parker will recognise his Fulham are still a work in progress. There’ll be moments when Parker will feel his team have cracked it, only for mistakes to occur just moments later.
But he’ll will find comfort in the knowledge that any unique tactical system takes time to implement. Even Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa didn’t get it right at the first time of asking.
Win on Monday, though, and Fulham and Parker will be in with a shout of doing just that.
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