Scott Parker is relishing the challenge of facing the Premier League’s top clubs as he prepares for a daunting introduction to management with Fulham.
The former England midfielder begins his interim tenure at home to west London rivals Chelsea on Sunday after replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri. The 19th-placed Cottagers, who are 10 points from the last safe spot and facing an immediate return to the Championship, are also due to host title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City before the end of the month.
“This was a team that went through a hard season in the Championship for these moments,” said Parker. “OK, it’s a tough ask, but I know sitting in this position I’m relishing this opportunity of playing against these top teams, top players and top coaches. And I know the players will be as well. I’m looking forward to it massively.”
Having represented five different London clubs during his playing career, Parker has plenty of experience of derby matches in the capital. He spent the 2004-05 season at Stamford Bridge and represented both Chelsea and Fulham in this fixture.
While he has not given up hope of masterminding an improbable great escape with only 10 games remaining, his main objective this weekend is to restore the faith of the club’s disgruntled supporters. “I understand what is at stake and that it’s a London derby against a very, very good football team,” he said. “In that sense it’s probably not going to be different, what probably will be is you’re standing on the outside hoping your 11 players on the field can transmit what you’ve put into them and sometimes you’re powerless in that sense.
“I want to give the players a real clear idea of what I expect, what the club expect and what the fans expect. The most important thing is to make sure the 25,000 fans clap them knowing they gave everything.”
Maurizio Sarri was sparing in the advice he was willing to offer to Parker. The Italian said: “To take this job, you have to love football, but you have to forget everything that is around football. I think so, otherwise it’s impossible to do this job.”
Arrizabalaga was fined and dropped for the Spurs game as a result of his for his refusal to be substituted just before the penalty shootout won by Manchester City. While Sarri insists the episode is over, he has yet to decide whether the world’s most expensive goalkeeper could return in place of Willy Caballero at Fulham or be recalled for Thursday’s Europa League match with Dynamo Kyiv.
“For the players, I think it was an experience useful for staying more united,” Sarri said. “When there is a difficult situation, I think it’s very difficult for everybody, but it’s a big opportunity, also. You have to take that opportunity. Of course, it was really a very bad experience but I think we can come out of this situation better than before.”