Scott Parker led Fulham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking – with a tactical masterclass to beat the Championship’s top scorers in the play-off final.
An unusually compact Fulham sealed promotion in the play-off final thanks to a pair of strikes from Joe Bryan – the first crafted by Parker himself – as free-scoring Brentford were kept unusually quiet by the Cottagers’ defence in a 2-1 defeat at Wembley.A visibly emotional Parker spoke to Sky Sports after full-time, and explained how Bryan’s opening goal – a long-range free-kick which caught out David Raya at his near post – had been crafted, as well as how Fulham switched from their usual 4-3-3 to successfully frustrate Brentford.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.”We did it in the last game and it went nowhere near the goal – tonight, thankfully, it’s worked. My staff deserve full credit for that.
“The tactics were to be defensively solid, match the triangles up on the sides, we knew the front three are dangerous, and when they got to the sides of the pitch we had to commit men over there and match up. You find a lot of Brentford’s goals come from the sides of the pitch.
“We’ve worked on being really diligent, in terms of winger, full-back, holding midfield player, and we wanted to get Bobby Decordova-Reid inside and create numbers in and around the middle of the park. I thought that worked really well, we had control first half, we were brave, second half we lost it a little bit, but I thought we still had a bit about us. It worked really well tonight.
“The facts are, the reality is, you can’t really enjoy it. You win a football match and by the time you get to Saturday night, having a beer or a Chinese, you’re already thinking about Monday morning, the next game. We live in a world and a profession where you win a game, you lose the next one and you’re deemed a failure.
“You realise you have to always be at the top and always planning. Not for me, I hope that after tomorrow I can just sit down with the family, my wife and kids who have been on egg shells for the last year probably, and they get their husband and dad back who does the things I want to do really.”