BY YANN TEAR
Scott Parker says Fulham are only now finally shaking off the hangover of relegation from the Premier League and building momentum.
The Whites were ultimately left frustrated in Saturday’s excellent derby with Charlton, which ended in a 2-2 draw, but the second half performance came mightily close to translating into all three points and the unbeaten run is now six games.
As a result, the Whites’ boss says the latest international break has come at the wrong moment for Fulham, because his players are starting to motor. They are seventh in the Championship.
He said: “The hangover of last year probably was still there in the early part of the season.
“There are also some new players here who are obviously getting to grips with it and getting us to gel.
But I feel the last two or three weeks, momentum is firmly (with us) and obviously the international break has come at a bit of a bad time for us. I thought it before the game. I feel a real shift and a real turn.
“It’s my job and the players’ to reboot and I like where we are. I think we’re a very good side.”
The head coach continued: “This is a team which three months ago was used to losing football matches and got relegated, with all the negativity that comes around that, and there’s still some scars along the way.
“But it’s a process. You don’t just change your mentality from losing football matches and getting relegated to all of a sudden wheeling out a team who are going to [win everything] – that’s not going to happen.
Ultimately, winning matches gains momentum, quickens it up, of course it does.
“I believe 100 per cent in these boys. Eleven games down, we can take a bit of air and I’m delighted where we are and I know there’s still more to come. I see them every day and I see real togetherness and unity.”
Parker added: “The message keeps coming from me to this team and the whole football club, the fans included, that along the way there’s going to be some bumps this year.
“I worried six months or a year ago, that a bump that hit this team would flatten us and we need to understand that when the bumps come, I want us to be man enough to stand up and ride over them and I feel we are in a place where we can do that.
“We’re together and sticking together. We’ve got great quality.
“At least the players can have a rest now. It’s been a tough couple of weeks and they’ve done brilliantly.
The last three games, of course we were looking to get nine points, but we sit on seven and we end it with a second half performance which which delighted me massively.”
Bobby Reid came on for the second half and played a big part in reviving Fulham after a poor first half against Charlton and three times came close to grabbing a winner that his dynamism would have deserved.
“I thought he was first class,” the Fulham boss said. “He could probably feel hard done by that he wasn’t starting today.
In the first half, we were getting the ball to Mitro but there wasn’t a lot of support and obviously getting Bobby on to get around Mitro and cause them a few problems worked really well for us.
“I’m pleased with the character we showed. The one thing we need to address and need to change here is the mentality. Every day we work on the mentality and I see that.
“I want to see a desire and a real work ethic, a togetherness and a never say die attitude. Certainly in in the second half, I felt I got that.
“The details about how we play of course is vitally important, but I want to see players like Mitro [Aleksandar Mitrovic] and [Tom] Cairney, like he was second half, taking it by the scruff of the neck. The big players in the changing room need to keep reinforcing what we want.
“Mitro second half represents everything that I want my team to be. He works his socks off.
“You look at Mitro and taking out the detail of his play, you just look at him as a man and what he represents.
“He represents someone who wants to win, someone who will do anything to try and get a yard, someone who will do anything to try and score a goal, someone who’s trying their hardest to win the game – and for me, that’s the most important thing.”