Scott Parker has vowed that Fulham will learn from the mistakes that saw them drop out of the Premier League after returning at the first time of asking following last night’s stunning play-off final win over Brentford.
Full-back Joe Bryan was the unlikeliest of heroes at Wembley, as his 40-yard free-kick caught goalkeeper David Raya off his line in the 105th minute to break the deadlock.
Three minutes from the end of extra-time, Bryan was at it again as he charged through the Brentford defence to score his second, doubling his goalscoring tally for Fulham on one of the biggest nights of his career and ensuring that Henrik Dalsgaard’s late header was nothing but a consolation for the Bees.
Following their play-off triumph in 2018, Fulham spent more £100million on players including Jean Michael Seri, Alfie Mawson and Maxime Le Marchand, while Andre Schurrle and Luciano Vietto were eye-catching but ineffective loan arrivals.
In the club’s defence, £22m was spent to secure the future of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who despite not being able to feature heavily last night has played a bigger role than most in their return to the top flight.
The spending spree last time out, with 12 new signings coming in ahead of the new season, saw those who had helped the club win promotion cast aside in favour of the new faces, breaking up the team that had enjoyed so much success under Slavisa Jokanovic. This time around, Parker will give his players a chance to impress in the top flight.
Parker said: “One hundred per cent [we have to do things differently]. Some clear errors were made last time and we will learn from that, we have to learn from that.
“We are going into the best league in the world. The best players and best teams, it is a brutal league. I know the challenge ahead, I don’t really want to think about it at the moment because I want to enjoy what we’ve done so far.
“But we will learn from those mistakes. What we are trying to build here are core foundations and those core foundations get you far in life.
“You can have as much talent as you want but if you’re not building your club on concrete and instead are building it on sand, in the end it will be the roller-coaster ride.
“I hope we can grow gradually, it will be tough, but if we can’t we’ll have those core foundations that we always fall back on. We’ll do that.
“You can’t build teams with drastic changes, drastic swings of players. You can’t do that. This team and myself have been around for the best part of 15 months now and they have improved, improved, improved.
“[There is] a lot more improvement to be done for sure but I am happy with where we are. Of course we are going to need additions but no drastic changes and we’ll go from there.”
Parker has rebuilt the squad over the past year and has delivered promotion with a team playing in his image. He has also changed the mentality of his players.
Many pundits had the Bees, who had beaten Fulham twice during the season without conceding, as favourites to win last night, while midfielder Emiliano Marcondes said Fulham would be scared of his side — and those words came back to haunt him.
Fulham captain Tom Cairney said: “Those words that the guy [Emiliano] said before the game gave us that extra bit of motivation.
Goalscoring hero Bryan added: “We’ve been written off five, six, seven, eight, nine times. I read somewhere we were supposed to be scared of them.”