Can Fulham immediately bounce back again?

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May 11, 2021
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    Fulham 0-2 Burnley: Relegated Cottagers fell short, says Parker

    Promotion. Relegation. Promotion. Relegation.

    There have been as many ups as downs for Fulham in the last four seasons, with the latest down being confirmed on Monday as a 2-0 defeat against Burnley saw the Cottagers relegated from the Premier League.

    Boss Scott Parker, who oversaw the end of their demotion in 2019 then the promotion campaign last season, knows it is time to shake off the 'yo-yo' nature of the club.

    "We need to try and get off the rollercoaster we're on," he told Sky Sports.

    "But now is not the time to discuss how we do that. I feel like I know – well I do know – but now is not the time to go into great detail."

    So can Fulham establish themselves in the top flight and will Parker stay around to take on the task?

    • Reaction as Fulham are relegated in Burnley loss

    'As a club we need to make good decisions'

    It is the first time in Premier League history that all the relegated teams have been decided with three matches of the season remaining, with Fulham joining West Bromwich Albion and bottom-of-the table Sheffield United in dropping down a division.

    However, if the three teams want some encouragement they only have to look at the top of the Championship.

    Norwich City won the title this season, followed by Watford – who both dropped out of the Premier League in 2019-20 only to make an instant return.

    Bournemouth could make it a clean sweep of quick top-flight recoveries as they are also in the Championship play-offs.

    Parker after 2020 play-off winFulham won promotion to the Premier League with a 2-1 win against Brentford in the Wembley play-off final in August

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    The three relegated clubs will each pick up at least £42m in 'parachute payments' next season, while Fulham opted for a transfer strategy last summer of signing players in their mid 20s for relatively small fees and then bolstering their squad with a number of loans.

    "The parachute money does count – two of the teams that got relegated [in 2019-20] kept their squad and that's propelled them back into the Premier League," said former England midfielder Karen Carney on BBC Radio 5 Live.

    "Money is a big issue and it does matter. Money and buying a centre forward keeps you up."

    Fulham have only won five league matches all season and have the second-worst goalscoring record with 25 goals from 35 matches.

    "I would sum it up [the season] in that game [against Burnley]," added former England midfielder Parker. "In between the boxes we've had our moments and looked a good side but lacked something at either end.

    "While we've had our moments, we've fallen short at this level and that's why we're relegated."

    'We have failed'

    Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who only scored three league goals compared to 26 in the promotion season, offered a more blunt assessment.

    "We have failed this season," he said. "It was not good enough. We did not deserve to stay up.

    "Overall we have finished where we deserve to be. We did not show the big character, big mentality and we cracked under the pressure.

    "We tried, we fought, we worked hard but we needed more quality on the ball. We got punished today and this season."

    Scott Parker (middle)Fulham are 10 points behind Southampton in 17th and Brighton in 16th with only three games to play

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    Parker hinted the club needed to change their methods – and that could include recruiting for next season earlier than they did for this campaign.

    Four games had gone and no points had been picked up before promoted Fulham made many of the signings that turned out to be key players this season.

    Parker said: "At this moment I have nothing but sadness. Now and in the coming days we will have a long hard think and regroup.

    "The club needs to make big decisions. We've had a relegation, a promotion and a relegation. The rollercoaster of that and the highs and lows is not something you want.

    "As a football club we need to make good decisions and work out where we want to go."

    Will Parker stay on?

    Parker is in his first managerial position and has gained plaudits for his team's progressive style of play and results that have included away wins at Leicester City, Liverpool and Everton as well as draws at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

    After impressing during a spell as caretaker boss in 2019, he was originally given a two-year deal, but then signed an improved three-year contract last September to keep him with the Cottagers until the summer of 2023.

    Tottenham, for whom Parker played between 2011 and 2013, are without a permanent manager and have been linked with a move for the 40-year-old.

    But in the aftermath of his side's relegation, Parker gave no hint that he wanted to leave west London, saying "I've been committed since I came here – that's always been the case.

    "What's key for me is we sit down, analyse and learn, are brave enough to see where we've gone wrong and not go through the same cycle.

    "I'll be the first to put my point across along with all the others to bring this club back into this league and hopefully stay here."

    However, Carney felt the demoralising nature of this season will take some time to recover from.

    She added: "You have to have the belief and energy to go 'right I can go again'. I'm not so sure – it's how dejected is he from this?

    "I'm looking at him and he's lost a battle to stay up and I'm not sure. There will be people looking at him and thinking 'with better investment could he do a better job elsewhere?' Even if no other teams come in, has he got the energy to keep going?"

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