Fulham has taken its first step towards next season in the Championship by locking down a boss, hiring interim boss Scott Parker as full-time head coach, the club announced on Friday, signing a two-year deal.
Parker spent the final four years of his playing career at Fulham, making 128 appearances for the club before retiring in 2017 and joining the backroom staff. He remained part of the coaching staff through multiple managerial changes in the Premier League this season, finally being tabbed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in late February.
Under Parker’s guidance, Fulham finished the season strong despite being strapped with relegation. They lost their first five matches under Parker, but three of those came against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They then won three in a row against Everton, Bournemouth, and Cardiff City in mid-April despite having won just four matches all season previously.
“Scott was brave to accept a very difficult challenge in February when appointed as our Caretaker Manager,” said club chairman Shahid Khan in the official team announcement . “Since that time, day by day, whether in training or on matchday, we’ve undeniably become a better football club. Scott will now have another challenge to face, and that is to return Fulham to the Premier League. I fully believe Scott is more than up to the task.”
The 38-year-old former Fulham captain feels he is ready for his first managerial gig, having previously played nearly 600 career matches for Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham.
“Now, the challenge lies with me to move things forward,” said Parker in the official team release. “Ultimately, success comes from a culture and a desire – that needs to be our foundation. We’ll drive a culture here that our fans will recognize.”
A big focus for Parker is the atmosphere in the dressing room, which Parker believes he can influence as a recent player. “I’ve got 20 years of playing experience and 20 years of being in changing rooms,” Parker said. “I want to use that experience to help the club be successful and move things forward.”
The job ahead is a tough one moving forward given the Fulham squad is in a state of horrible flux. Young winger Ryan Sessegnon is out of contract next summer and therefore likely to be sold unless he changes course and signs and extension with the club. Striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and midfielder Jean-Michel Seri could also be out the door given their level of talent, potentially avoiding dropping down a league with the club. Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Havard Nordveit, Andre Schurrle, and Luciano Vietto are all loanees scheduled to return to parent clubs after the season ends. Denis Odoi, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskins Kebano are all out of contract this summer and could depart as well.