After missing out on last season’s Premier League, Fulham FC is back with a bang. Back-to-back goals in the extra time of Championship playoff final against Brentford ensured Fulham’s berth in EPL 2020-21.
The Cottagers finished 19th in the 2018-19 season of Premier League. Thus, they were forced to play in the Championship. However, their second division stay did not last too long, thanks to Scott Parker and co.
Before facing Brentford in the final, Fulham edged out Cardiff City FC in the semi-final round by an aggregate scoreline of 3-2.
The final started in a boring manner as both the teams were focused on defending. After a goal-less 90 minutes of play, the match went on to extra time. Fulham left-back Joe Bryan broke the deadlock at 105th minute before scoring another one 12 minutes later. The Bees right-back Henrik Dalsgaard put one back, but it was too late to deny Fulham’s victory.
It was a heart-breaking loss for Thomas Frank’s team. They lost both of their final two fixtures in the regular season and missed out on an assured promotion. If they won one of the two games, they would have had a direct entry into EPL instead of West Brom.
The hero of the match, Joe Bryan, thanked the fans for their support after the match ended. “I’m not the hero, every single one of them, fans and people around us who has been with us all season is” Bryan said.
The Cottagers skipper Tom Cairney also expressed his joy. He said. “I can’t put it into words. It feels special. We got written off a bit this year, no one talked about us, they talked about Brentford and Leeds. It shows the spirit in the dressing room, not many teams bounce back up.”
A large portion of the credit has to go to Fulham manager Scott Parker. He did not lose hope in his boys when everyone else wrote them off.
How Scott Parker’s tactical masterclass ensured Fulham’s promotion
Scott Parker has all signs of a great manager. Since taking the job in February 2019, Parker has made some drastic changes in Fulham’s style of play.
A Brentford team, which scored the highest number of goals in this season’s Championship, were limited to only 4 shots on target during the whole 120 minutes of play. This was only possible because of Scott Parker’s clever tactics.
It was his tactical masterclass to stop Brentford at the source. His tactics going into the final included stopping ball supply to Said Benrahama, the star of Brentford this season. And Brentford’s chances of scoring goals went down with Benrahama staying captive in Fulham defense.
After the match, an emotional Parker explained to the media how Bryan’s first goal was planned. He said, “The opening goal was planned. We looked at Raya’s positioning from free-kicks, he’s very aggressive. I called Joe over before the free-kick to try to make out we were doing some tactical thing, let’s move it over, but I told him to keep an eye on his positioning, and commit to the shot. He did it, and it worked.”
With this kind of planning ability, I’m sure a better future is waiting for Scott Parker. Someday we might see him donning the manager’s hat in any of the top English sides.