Author Topic: Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times  (Read 1241 times)

Offline Gezza

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Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times
« on: April 20, 2020, 09:40:45 AM »
Scott Parker’s Fulham players begin phoning the elderly and the vulnerable this week, checking on them, chatting away in one of the Championship club’s many initiatives to help the local community during the pandemic. Parker will join in while also continuing his calls to his squad living with lockdown, even getting the club psychologist to ring them, keeping an eye on their mental health as well as physical.

Parker’s first thoughts are, of course, with the NHS heroes fighting the virus. “When you see what these people are doing on the frontline, and the situations they are putting themselves in, it puts football into full perspective,” Parker says. “Football’s a massive part of our lives, the be-all and end-all the majority of our time, but it’s not until moments like this, really down moments, that you sit back and really think about it.”

But it is his job, and his passion, to look after his players, a challenge for all managers now having to work with people remotely. Parker always talked about the dressing room as a “family” throughout his long, much-praised playing career, taking him from Charlton Athletic, Norwich City (on loan) and on to Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham, and it is an ethos he has carried into management. Players are family, and he worries about them, especially now in lockdown.

“I find it hard,” he admits. “I’m not in full control. I wouldn’t want this to come across that I was underplaying this situation — I know how serious it is — but every day the messages going constantly through my mind are, ‘OK, what’s so and so doing? Is he doing his work? When are we going to get back?

“I’m trying to manage a group of 30 players. Usually [pre-lockdown], I know that when you get them in at 9am or 10am every day, you can take their weight, you know what they’re eating. You then get them out on the training field, deliver the session, deliver the fitness, you can keep on top of them. Of course from 2pm to the following day, you don’t know but at that point I go home knowing where I am. At this present moment in time, I don’t know where I am. It’s the uncertainty.”

Parker is not 40 until October, but already highly thought of as a manager with his attractive Fulham side lying third in the Championship. He’s been in charge for only 50 games, but he is used to taking responsibility, from leaving home at 14 to go to the FA National School at Lilleshall, to captaining clubs, and even leading out England at Wembley against Holland in 2012. His desire to stay in football meant he had completed his Uefa Pro-Licence two years before retiring.

“But there’s no course that can prepare you for this,” Parker says. “I’m classed as ‘inexperienced’ but even the vastly experienced, no one’s experienced this. The uncertainty that surrounds us is very, very difficult for all of us. When I’m in communication with players individually and as a team, I just want to be very clear in my message.” He talks about routine, something drilled into him at Lilleshall, and emphasises his support to each player.

“It’s very, very tough. We’ve obviously got a psychologist who works with us, [and] he’s in contact with them. As much as the whole situation is scary for a lot of the players, the ones who seem to struggle the most are the young ones, foreign lads. We have to work out where they are mentally, and keep them in a place [mentally] where they are comfortable. We talk, we zoom, there’s regular communication with the players but there’s no denying that it’s a tough period.”

Fulham had prepared. “We were very proactive early on. Before lockdown [in the UK], we’d looked at Italy and Spain and ordered bikes and made sure that at least every player had some form of exercise whether treadmill, bike. Have they got a personal gym? What do they need? Weights? We knew that if players weren’t allowed out, or some players weren’t comfortable going out, they would have some facility for exercising in their rooms. The majority of them are going out exercising.

“Some players don’t want to go outside to exercise. They are scared of that.” Social distancing, the threat of this invisible enemy, play on the minds of individuals used to the security and camaraderie of the dressing room. “In terms of managing their minds, and them, it is a fragile situation which me the and staff need to be fully aware of and respect,” he says.

People skills have always come easily for Parker. It’s the way his parents brought him up in Lambeth, South London, being respectful to others, grafting hard and taking responsibility. When West Ham trailed 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion at half-time in 2011, Parker delivered a half-time talk that Carlton Cole described as “inspirational” and “brought a tear to the eye”. Parker, Cole and company fought back to draw.

“I feel like my people skills are something I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in,” Parker reflects. “I had vast experience of dealing with people as a player and captain. When I started to go into coaching [with Spurs under-18s then assisting Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri at Fulham] I looked even more at people skills, and knew this is an area where you need to be at your top.”

Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, and José Mourinho when he was in his prime, are fabled for their people skills. “You look at all the top managers,” Parker continues, “and the majority of them have a real understanding of their players, have an understanding of the human being and what you need to be like to get the best out of them.

“I’m dealing with footballers who are different to my generation. I don’t know whether they are softer. Maybe that is the case. I don’t know whether I’d like to be brought up in the current climate with the scrutiny they come under. Everyone has an opinion of how they’ve played, on the goal they scored or missed. I need to understand that. I don’t do social media so trying to relate to it is pretty difficult but what I can relate to is the amount of pressure that I understand this puts on this players. A couple of comments they may read can really be a burden, especially on young players. I have to educate players to have a strong head.”

He has drawn on experiences from playing under Mourinho who always kept him motivated even when on the bench, to the tougher Graeme Souness, to the master of man-management Harry Redknapp to the more dictator-like Fabio Capello. Parker took notes, preparing himself for management. “Along the way, I’ve had a lot of managers, very good ones, very bad ones,” Parker says. “The thing that helped me was I’d put myself in the manager’s situation. If José e dealt with someone in a certain way, I’d sit back and analyse it.

“I’d say I’m a ‘detail’ manager. I’m obsessed about every little tiny detail, the man-management side, understanding the players. I’m obsessed with the real detail of what I give to the players, whether that’s on the training field in terms of the tactics, whether that’s technical in terms of the time you spend with individuals, trying to improve them, or whether that’s the psychological side, and really getting to know my players and understanding them.”

Parker’s been helped during this crisis by the support of Fulham’s American owners, Shahid Khan and his son, Tony. “The ownership have been first class, really supportive of the team, of staff, and very understanding,” Parker says. “Certainly when it [the virus] first kicked off here, maybe they didn’t understand fully as America was a bit behind us. But they have always been supportive. I speak to Tony often, via email, and I’ve had a couple of conversations with him. He’s very supportive.”

Similarly, Fulham have rallied to support the community. “When people say ‘Fulham’, and what it represents, the words that come to mind are ‘family-orientated’, ‘close-knit’ club,” Parker says. “I’m sure a lot of clubs are doing the same, especially in these moments when we all come together, really give, and do what’s needed. The club have been helping food banks.”

More than 1,000 fans have so far been contacted by club staff and Fulham FC Foundation staff already, reminding them that their club was there for them. “The players start ringing fans this week,” Parker says. “Members of staff have been already doing that. The younger generation text or WhatsApp but for the more elderly to hear a voice and actually speak probably means a lot more, especially at this present time. The club are very thoughtful.”

And what of Parker himself? How is the man who just thinks of others during lockdown? “I watched Tiger King!” he laughs. “I’ve got four boys, so I stand in goal in the garden on average about two hours a day! My hands are taking a pounding!” Parker pauses, and turns serious again, considering the pandemic. “We will get through this. There’s no doubt we will because that’s what we normally do as a country. And we will come out the other side stronger for it.”
« Last Edit: April 20, 2020, 10:47:28 AM by Friendsoffulham »

Offline RaySmith

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Re: Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2020, 10:41:59 AM »
Very interesting - thanks for posting.

Offline JimOG

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Re: Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2020, 01:44:34 PM »
Very interesting - thanks for posting.
+1


Offline snarks

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Re: Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2020, 05:46:11 PM »
He always comes across well and determined to learn and improve. That article backs that up. Thanks for posting

Russianrob

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Re: Interview with Scott Parker in today's Times
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2020, 06:01:39 PM »
I had been in the anti Parker camp almost since he got the job.However after watching a program hosted by Ron Atkinson on YouTube l now realize in comparison with other managers what a decent man he is.Sure he will lose it on occasions but a gentleman at heart like Alex Stock.