Introducing Matt Wells

Wednesday 20 March 2019 15:00

We caught up with Fulham’s First Team Coach to discuss working with Scott Parker, his footballing philosophies, and his granddad Cliff Jones’ time spent at Craven Cottage.

Having followed Scott from Spurs to Fulham, presumably you two have good chemistry?

We’ve got an incredible relationship, we just clicked as soon as Scott came in [at Tottenham]. We both see football in a very similar way. Scott came in with incredible playing experience, and I think we both really helped each other. I could help translate some of his ideas into sessions and how we deliver that to the players. We just struck up a really good relationship, probably a friendship first and foremost because as people off the pitch we’re very close, and in a footballing sense with the way we view the game tactically.

What sort of footballing ideologies do you possess?

Very much the same as Scott in that I want us to be the proactive team on the pitch every time we play. We want to dominate, but also plan well in terms of how we press the opposition. We’re both of the mind that you have your principles and your way of playing, but every opponent requires a certain tweak and a different way of attacking or defending, because everyone has their unique strengths and weaknesses. We both crave that control of the ball, we both want to be the team asking the questions, and making the other team react to us. That’s something that will certainly take time here, but it’s something that already in training we’re trying to impress upon the players.

What have you made of the three matches you’ve been involved in?

I think what we’ve asked of the players tactically and in terms of a mentality and approach to the games, we can’t fault them because they’ve been excellent in that sense. Probably the first half against Leicester was the most disappointing period that we’ve overseen. Chelsea, with very little time to work beforehand, the mentality and the performance was so impressive. Against Leicester the impressive facet was the reaction second half. We changed things tactically and obviously Floyd came on and scored the goal quickly, and we were disappointed for the players because there was a period where we were so in control – you could feel the Leicester fans had turned against them a little bit – and then a mistake leads to a goal. That’s the Premier League. And then of course the game against Liverpool, I think tactically we were very impressive. We’d studied them, and in every game they’ve caused teams problems through the middle of the pitch and their runs behind, and we didn’t really suffer any situations like that. But again we gave two goals away that hinged on small details which we really should have done better with, and that’s something which we have to keep working at.

There really is some quality in the squad, though, isn’t there?

They’re really impressive. I’ve come from Tottenham where I’ve watched a hell of a lot of first team training over the last eight years, and you can see the quality that we’ve got here in the squad. The players are adapting to the demands that Scott puts in place and the intensity and consistency of the work to go and go again every day. The word that Scott keeps using is ‘standards,’ referring to the standards put in place and the standards we demand of them. It does take time, but then it becomes habitual and translates to a mentality, and then you become that team that just drives and pushes every day. And that moves into games where, regardless of the circumstances, you keep pushing and fighting. You can see that in all three games so far; what’s been most impressive has been the second half, or certainly periods around the midpoints of the second halves where we’ve been the stronger team. The players will get fitter and stronger with the way we’re working, so I’ve been really impressed so far and I’m of the same belief as Scott that if we keep working in that way, results will definitely be a by-product of the process. Obviously it’s been disappointing because we want the points, and we do have belief going into every game. That’s what we’re trying to instil into the players, believing that we can win regardless of the opposition.

Your granddad Cliff Jones is a Spurs legend, but he also spent a couple of years at Fulham at the end of his career…

It’s funny really because he was at Tottenham and then he came to Fulham, so bizarrely I’ve followed the same path in a coaching capacity. He’s been an amazing support for me throughout my career, always willing to give me advice and tell me stories. He’s got an unbelievable long-term memory, he can tell me every half-time team talk that Bill Nicholson delivered. Bill was obviously an incredible manager, and it’s great to have that in the family. My grandad has told me numerous times what a great club Fulham is. He loved it here, he just wishes he’d played a little bit better he said! It was the tail end of his career and he did say he probably wouldn’t be the most popular with the fans because they weren’t his best performances, but as a club and a place he loved his years here. He always speaks about what Johnny Haynes was like in training, about the quality of the man. He loved the club and obviously wishes me the best here.

For more on Matt's background, you can view his staff profile here.

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