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Fulham boss Scott Parker concerned at lack of preparation

last updated Tuesday 12th January 2021, 8:40 PM

Fulham Football Club

Fulham Head Coach Scott Parker
Fulham Head Coach
Scott Parker
Scott Parker
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Fulham boss Scott Parker’s pre-Tottenham Hotspur press conference was dominated by questions regarding the late rearrangement of the fixture.

Spurs were initially due to face Aston Villa on Wednesday, but a Covid outbreak at the Midlands side last week has since led to the Premier League calling on Fulham to take their place.

Parker has no qualms with the fixture congestion that now faces his side, it’s the short notice which forms the main bone of contention.

Asked when he first caught wind of the potential change, he replied: “The possibility of playing Spurs came on Saturday afternoon. We obviously didn’t think that would be realistic.

“We then got told on Monday morning at 9.30 that we now fill in for Aston Villa’s fixture, and we’ve got to play Spurs on Wednesday.

“I realise we live in an unpredictable time, you’re going to have to move certain things in terms of what you’re used to.

“It’s not ideal, but I certainly accept that and I’m normally the last person to moan or whine about anything because I realise it’s tough out there and this is the way it is.

“It’s not about the fixture, I accept that we have to play. It’s the notice. Maybe the people in these places don’t understand how you manage teams and how you manage players, but you’re constantly working that out well in advance.

“The decisions I would have made – whether that’s against QPR, whether that’s players who are literally just coming back… By the way, we’ve had it tough in terms of Covid. We’ve not been out there publicly in terms of numbers [of positive cases], but we’ve had it very tough.

“Working those players over a weekend, knowing or thinking that you’ve got six days before your next fixture for them to get up to speed or to work with them, that’s quickly changed on Monday morning. For me, that’s madness really.”

He continued: “Do I think this would happen if it was a top of the table title clash between two of the biggest teams? No, probably not. And rightly so. For me, this is not acceptable, for the integrity of the game, the welfare of players.

“You haven’t got to be very bright to work out that we’ve had a game called off against Spurs 13 days ago because we had numerous outbreaks of Covid. 13 days later we now sit here and, with two days’ notice, we have to put these players into a position to play the game.

“I was initially told that this was a thought process of what may happen. From Saturday to Sunday I spent numerous hours with people in place at this football club trying to explain that surely this can’t be feasible.

“It gives us hardly any time, and that’s more of my frustration. I can’t turn back the last five days. I can’t turn back the weekend.

“Then the next stumbling block was that maybe we would have to play on Friday against Chelsea, and at that point I thought there was every chance they would do that as well considering what’s happening now.

“We knew last week that Aston Villa had a problem. Aston Villa’s game against Spurs was called off. It was well documented that the majority of Aston Villa’s team were in isolation.

“They then fielded an under-18/23 against Liverpool. So we knew then that, maybe, their game on Wednesday probably will be called off.

“At that moment, tell us! Tell us, ‘look, this is what’s going to happen.’ Let’s be proactive about it. If we’d have known this on Thursday or Friday, not a problem, not a problem at all.”

While the players who had Covid are recovering well, Parker referenced that following guidelines has meant that preparations have been far from ideal.

“None of my players are feeling the after effects of it, but we all know the protocols,” he explained.

“13 days ago the game was called off, the [isolation] protocols are 10 days, so that’s just three days for players coming back. Players who have been stuck in their houses for the 10 days having done no work.

“Let’s say this game on Wednesday doesn’t exist and we’ve got the game on Friday, even a week’s work with these players who have been in their houses for 10 days is some ask really.

“To think that we now chuck a game bang in the middle of the week, when it wasn’t there initially, is another story.

“My players are fine, and we will be fine. I sit here angry because I don’t think it’s right, I think it’s wrong.

“Do I believe that tomorrow we’ll go the best prepared we can? Yeah, I believe we can give Spurs a game.

“I’m disappointed and angry because I think this is wrong, what’s happened. I don’t think it’s right, for numerous reasons, and that’s why I’m so angry about it.

“I don’t doubt my players for one second. We’ve come under it a bit the last couple of weeks, but I often say to this team that it’s these moments where you can build something as teams, through the adverse times and when things are a little bit down.

“That’s when you really need to stand up. That’s exactly how it is. I don’t have any fear regarding our mentality or our purpose about us.”

Source Geoff Pruce at Fulham FC
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