The uncertain futures of Scott Parker, Aleksandar Mitrovic and another summer of Fulham transfers

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Once again Fulham arrive at the end of a Premier League campaign with matches remaining and Scott Parker in charge.

Like two years ago supporters are left with feeling that the overall direction is unsustainable, and while many had the optimism of Parker being appointed as a permanent fixture ahead of the final match of the season in 2019, it seems that the Cottagers’ boss may find himself at another crossroads.

Relegation had felt inevitable for many but the laboured sentences and timbre of Parker’s voice in his post-match press conference lacked much of the fire he usually brings. Confirmation felt a significant moment.

This is not to say Parker wants a new challenge or is on the verge of losing his job but as we approach a time where the squad will experience a great deal of turnover as loan deals come to an end – the project starts over.

The likes of Joachim Andersen and Alphonse Areola will depart the club but much of the team that earned promotion via the play-offs in 2020 remain at the club. However, most have been deemed not good enough over the last eight months and have played only a small amount of football unless they were loaned out.

Is it difficult to get those players back on side? Can they be committed to a project in which they don’t get the full impact of the reward at the end?

Parker is under no illusion of how important this summer is.

He said: “The most important. The absolute most important. The decisions we make now as a football club are going to be crucial and pivotal.

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“Next year is going to be another new side, another new squad and like I said, it’s been disappointing this year, we need to put our hands up, get around a table and understand where we want to go as a club and what we need to do.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster with a relegation, a promotion, a relegation and we need to make some crucial decision to bounce back into this division. That is not going to be easy, especially when half the team are leaving. We’ll hopefully make some good decisions and work out where we need to go.”

A key word that featured in Monday night’s press conference was ‘sustainability’. Parker again noted the problematic nature of waiting for transfers at the start of the season and it will be something he will be keen to avoid with plenty of turnover planned. The 40-year-old’s future may depend on the reaction he receives in summer meetings with the club’s hierarchy.

The Whites boss didn’t want to be drawn on whether he would still be at the helm next season but did tag on that ‘the discussions we have as a football club and what we need to do to improve will speak for itself and we’ll work it out from there’.

The question the board and many supporters will be wrangling over is – was the team not good enough or was Parker unable to do enough with the tools he had? Fulham’s fluency in attack wasn’t convincing even in the Championship but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goals helped lead them to promotion.

The starting XI often look unable to make decisions quick enough in attack, but is it because they’ve been overcoached so they question their decisions?

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The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Many will think that Mitrovic has not been afforded enough opportunities to replicate his international form in a time where Fulham have been desperate for goals.

The Serbian forward has netted three times in 27 appearances with two of those coming in his first start of the season against Leeds United.

Fulham’s best form came without the 26-year-old, though they did miss a presence up top and in truth Mitrovic did little to convince anyone he deserved more game time while in Fulham colours. Whether you blame him or the team set up, of course, is a divisive issue.

Many will question his relationship with Parker, and wonder what has happened to quell the striker’s fire. With just 13 starts in the Premier League it is easy to see why Mitrovic may be unhappy with his current role.

In his post-match interview he said: “We have to finish these three games and see what is going to happen next.”

A difficult dilemma for the former Newcastle United forward who has now been relegated three times from the Premier League. Is he stuck in the space of being too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League?

Both Mitrovic and Parker end the season with questions around their ability or whether circumstances outside of their control have held them back. Both have shown they can do it in the Championship. Will either be around to find success together?

Source by Football London

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