Scott Parker described Fulham moving out of the Premier League dropzone as “irrelevant” – but admitted there was an element of relief as his side picked up their first victory since play-off glory.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ola Aina netted – the latter an excellent arrowed strike from the edge of the box – as the Whites comfortably eased past West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage.
The result lifted Fulham to 17th in the top-flight standings.
Whites manager Parker said: “It was a very, very good performance. We needed the win and we’ve got that. We had a real endeavour about us, showed our quality tonight and were well worthy of the two goals.
“What pleased me most was the way we managed the game second half, against a team we knew would come out and put us under pressure. We managed the situation very well.
“I’ve been pretty level this season and I’ve tried to relay that to the team, in terms of us understanding where we are this year and how our season is going to look.
“Along the way we are going to have a lot of bumps – I’m not afraid to say that. There probably is a little bit of relief. You want to win football matches to gain confidence. I’ve got a bunch of players who are really open to understanding that along the way we’re going to make mistakes. It’s going to be difficult at times.
“Nothing really [asked if there was a psychological effect of being out of the relegation zone]. It’s really irrelevant to me at the moment. What is relevant is the team moving in the right direction and the team improving – and I see that. I’ve seen that over the weeks before this. Okay the results haven’t been there and then the noise is that we can’t win.
“Let’s see where we are at the end.”
Fulham struck twice in quick succession in the first period. Decordova-Reid headed home from close range after Aleksandar Mitrovic had directed an Antonee Robinson cross back across the face of goal.
And Mitrovic also assisted the second of the night, his deft touch on the edge of the box teeing up Aina for a quality finish into the top left corner of the net.
Parker said: “[It was a] great strike, something we’ve spoken about over since the start of the season. The way we played last year and the way we’re going to have to play this year is probably different, in the sense we’re going to have to take risks a bit.
“I think we’re number one for crosses, certainly for shots in and around the edge of the box. Ola did that [took a risk] – he took a shot and it’s flown into the top corner. That was pleasing.
“We have shown [that confidence] in the majority of our games. Anyone watching us with an open mind will see us for what we are. People can see where we need to improve and get better. The team can see that. But we have big quality as well.”
Fulham’s midfield dominated the visitors with Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa a driving force. But Tom Cairney and Mario Lemina also shone, although the latter had to be replaced with a tight hamstring at the break.
“I’m very conscious of singling out any one player because to a man today every single one of them was top drawer,” said Parker when asked about Anguissa.
“Tom was top today. We all understand and realise the quality Tom has as a football player – he makes you feel safe when he’s in possession.
“He’s a lovely player. The one thing he needs to add to his game is taking risk.
“I saw someone tonight who was constantly taking the game to West Brom – whether that was driving with the ball or looking to penetrate. He could play higher up. That’s the benchmark for Tom, that’s where he needs to stay.
“He [Lamina] felt his hamstring a little bit. We didn’t want to take any risks. We’ll have to see how he is in the morning.”
Fulham also kept their first clean sheet of the season – the last time they managed one at that level was a 1-0 success over Cardiff City in April 2019.
Joachim Andersen enjoyed a comfortable debut.
“It was a good performance in terms of solidness,” said Parker. “We worked hard as a team. I remember them having one shot on target. It’s something we need to build on.
“He [Andersen] did fantastically well. Yeah, he’s not had a lot of [playing] time – he got injured. But he’s been around it and been in meetings, we showed him clearly what we want from him in terms of unit meetings and us as a team.”
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