Scott Parker and his Fulham side made their point at Tottenham on Wednesday night
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Scott Parker insisted he and his Fulham team did not owe anyone an apology after clinching a valuable draw against Tottenham Hotspur at late notice.
The Fulham manager had described the decision to reschedule his team’s trip to Spurs at 48 hours’ notice as “scandalous”. Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho, however, claimed Fulham and Parker should apologise for their complaints if they fielded a strong team.
Parker did manage to put out a near-enough full-strength side, but afterwards revealed that two of his players had only managed to train for one day after recovering from coronavirus.
And Parker insisted that Fulham did not owe any apologies for Ivan Cavaleiro heading a late goal to earn his side a fully-deserved draw and boost their hopes of Premier League survival.
“We owe nobody an apology,” said Parker. “Myself and this football club owe nobody an apology. You can talk from the outside, people can see what they want to see and work out exactly what the script is, but it was far from that.
“There were two players on that pitch tonight who had trained for one day and come back from Covid and had one day’s training. There were players with three or four days training. The issue for me was never about only having two days to prepare, I understand that and that was what we had in the Championship last season.
“The issue was, 16 days ago this game was scheduled in and since then we had 10 positive Covids, a couple of staff, key staff, and then on Monday morning at 9.30am we got told we were playing in this game and that was my issue.
“We weren’t making it up. We’ve been very open and considering the safety of others as well, so that was my worry and we don’t need to apologise for anything. This team came here tonight with a purpose once we knew the game was on and they were immense.”
Parker confirmed he would speak to his players about the need to temper their celebrations after Cavaleiro’s goal was greeted by hugs and a lack of distancing, despite the Premier League’s updated coronavirus protocols.
“I’ll have those conversations,” said Parker. “I have some sympathy with the players because we are still playing football and still being judged, and we are under the same stresses that brings. But I understand the situation and the protocols in place, so, of course, it will be a conversation I have with the players and, hopefully, try to eradicate it (hugging).”
Mourinho was annoyed to see Tottenham throw away another lead and was unequivocal where the blame lay.
“The first half we had chances to kill the game,” said Mourinho. “Areola made good saves and in the second half we had the biggest chance to kill the game. But when you don’t kill the game, you cannot concede goals like that. It is the same story from the start of the season. You go back to the goals we concede and it is not easy to assimilate that.
“There are things that have to be with the characteristics of the players.
“Some things are to do with the organisation of the team, but other things they have to do with individual skills, individual ability and it’s as simple as that.”