Scott Parker says he was so thrilled at the prospect of Josh Onomah scoring the winner against Leeds, that he was even hoping Fulham would not score again to steal the young man’s thunder.
The midfielder crashed in the winner at Craven Cottage at the Hammersmith End and it was his first goal for the club after his summer move from Spurs as part of the deal which saw Ryan Sessegnon move the other way.
The 22-year-old has taken time to settle and not been overly convincing, but this was easily his best display for the Whites and he fully repaid the faith his boss has shown in him in recent weeks.
“He deserved that moment, he deserved it to stay 2-1,” Parker said.
“I didn’t want it to go 3-1, 4-1, I wanted it to stay 2-1 and I wanted Josh Onomah to take the winning goal, because he showed massive grit.
“Josh has been fantastic and I’m so, so pleased for him. I coached him when he was a 15-year-old boy and I know what ability he’s got. I know everything about him.
“He came here and he struggled a little bit, to be fair – he’d be the first to admit that. I think everyone over the first few weeks when they were first seeing him, probably they were sceptical and had a lot of doubt, but he represented what character does and what a desire and a passion does.
“When you’re dealing with young players and you’re having conversations with them, as I have done with Josh over the last five weeks, sometimes your words can be quite shallow, in the sense that it’s: ‘Keep going Josh, keep working hard, don’t give up, because through that, you’ll come through this and your quality will shine.’
“Sometimes, when you don’t see those rewards as a young player, you maybe get disheartened and I’m hoping that those words he now believes even more.”
Fulham’s default style involves plenty of good passing and monopoly of the ball, but against Leeds they had to show the sort of graft and grit that used to be a hallmark of Parker as a player.
And it was the manner of the victory, the resilience on the back of three straight defeats, which pleased him most.
“When you come off a run of three defeats, the most important thing is winning,” he said. “Last week [at Brentford] was a disappointing performance from us and today, to a man, this team executed a game plan and ultimately caused Leeds a lot of problems.
“Leeds are the most powerful, athletic team that we see but the most structured and patterned team as well. We studied them over many games and all week we drilled about the movements they make, to understand what was coming.”
Parker added: “The over-riding feeling I have is pride. I told them: ‘You’re not getting judged on technique, not getting judged on what a good footballer you are. There’s 20,000 coming here today to judge you on what you are as a man. Can you stand up when the chips are down?’
If there’s one thing you can say is that you saw a team that was front foot , aggressive, a team that needed to make a statement – a team that showed passion and a desire and that’s what pleased me the most really.
“I think that team out there represented me and represented what this football club is about.”