Fulham boss Parker given boost by Chelsea loan signing Loftus-Cheek, despite latest home defeat
Scott Parker is hoping the impressive half-hour cameo from Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Everton is a sign of what the midfielder can bring to Fulham this season.
The Whites’ head coach saw his side slip to a fourth home defeat of the season in the Premier League, but was lifted by a much better second half, even though his side could not rescue a half-time deficit and lost 3-2.
In particular, he was encouraged by the efforts of on-loan Chelsea man Loftus-Cheek, as he earned a penalty and opened his goals account for the club.
So far, the gifted England international has not featured regularly and Parker admits he is still learning what is needed from him. But he made his mark in trying to ignite a Fulham fightback after coming off the bench an hour into the contest.
“I thought he was brilliant,” Parker said.
“We've worked really hard with Ruben in terms of the information I’ve tried to give him about how he can have a really good impact.
“Sometimes I feel like Ruben has a tendency to have games drift by him. Today was everything that we spoke about with him. He came on and made a real difference. I thought he looked every bit a top, top player.
“He got the ball, he was brave, scored a goal, got in the box and was dynamic. He was getting in between the lines and he’ll be big for us this year if he keeps working on that.”
Parker may have been pleased with the team’s reaction to a poor first half, but was unhappy with the way they gifted Everton the initiative.
“In the first half, we were second best to a lot of things,” he said. “In terms of duels, in terms of 50-50s, in terms of putting your mark on the match, in terms of the basics of the game, we didn’t do that well enough. And you give yourself a real uphill task, conceding three goals.
“The second half was much improved and we changed it around a little bit in terms of tactics, but the main thing for me is why we performed like we did in the second half – it was because we did exactly what we missed in the first half in terms of understanding the battles and the fundamentals of a football match. First half, we fell short of that, and that was disappointing.
“I can’t really put my finger on why, to be honest with you. Of course, there’s individual errors, but first and foremost you have to battle. You have to show that side of you and we fell short. You shouldn’t have to come from a rollicking at half-time to get that reaction.”
Ivan Cavaleiro became the latest player to suffer a penalty nightmare. He fluffed from 12 yards after slipping in his run-up and the miss was almost as comical as Ademola Lookman’s duff Panenka attempt at West Ham before the international break.
“At the moment, there’s no denying we’ve got a little bit of an issue in terms of penalty takers,” Parker said with admirable understatement. “We’ve had four penalties this season, three of them we’ve missed. We'll keep working at it in training and see who is the best.
“We can cause teams problems. We can be successful this year. I know that for sure. We are a very good team. But at times, we have deficiencies.” Not least from the penalty spot.