Scott Parker apologised to the Fulham faithful for a result that he did not see coming.
The Whites went into Saturday’s encounter with bottom of the table Barnsley on a good run of form, but the Championship strugglers put in a relentless display to leave a storm-swept Craven Cottage with a 3-0 win.
“Big shock,” Parker said in his post-match press conference. “I didn’t anticipate or see that one coming. I hold no excuses. We were beaten by a better side today, a side who had more intensity about them. We were second best at times and we didn’t deserve anything out of the game.
“I am shocked, I am bitterly disappointed, I am gutted. I didn’t see it coming. The fans have come here, they didn’t see it coming, and I can only apologise for the performance today because it wasn’t what we’ve come to expect, but sometimes these things happen.
“The important thing is to keep going, keep driving, keep being those strong characters in the changing room, keep improving, and not dwell.
“We come out the back of a six game unbeaten run. This team has done remarkably well over this period, have stayed in it, and narrowed the gap.
“On the 14th of December I think it was 12 points to the ones above us, so we’ve done very well. This is a bump in the road and this is what this league brings, there are no surprises.
“You’re playing the bottom of the league team who are fighting for their lives who can come and do what they did to us today. We need to learn from that and understand that.”
Conditions were atrocious in SW6 as Storm Dennis came to town, but Parker was not using that as a reason for the disappointing showing.
“There’s excuses that can be put in place but those excuses also apply to Barnsley; the conditions, the wind, a three game week,” he said. “Barnsley had exactly the same and they’ve come here today with a real intent about them.
“I felt we looked second best at times, we struggled to match the intensity they came with. We came out second half and huffed and puffed and maybe if we get a goal at that point it might settle us down a bit, but at 2-0 it’s always going to be difficult and the game runs away from us.
“I don’t think there was a complacency. We’ve had a two day turnaround and for those two days that’s been the main objective and focus for us, in the sense of me and my staff speaking about a team coming here who are bottom of the league and struggling.
“One thing they were going to bring was energy and a real intensity. For some reason we were a little bit flat today. When you’re in sport and you’re dealing with human beings, sometimes that can happen.
“Did I expect it? No, not at all, but it’s something we need to learn from, something we need to analyse, reboot and go again.”
Marek Rodák will not have been happy with the goals he conceded, but Parker refused to criticise his goalkeeper who had been in sparkling form prior to the Tykes defeat.
“He’s made two errors today Marek, he’d be the first to hold his hands up and say that,” he stated. “The last thing I’m going to do is sit here and criticise him because he’s been nothing short of fantastic since he came into the team.
“The biggest challenge for Marek now, and the challenge I set to all of them is: during these moments let it kill you, let it burn inside you, of course, but the true character of great teams, great players and great people, is when you come back in on Monday morning and you’re brighter than you’ve ever been, you work harder than you ever have.
“Why? Because the chips are down a little bit. I’m not going to judge Marek today, I’m going to judge him on Monday morning when he walks in the building, and I hope he looks me in the eye, and I hope he shows me from the first minute of training until the end that he’s going to improve and he’s going to keep going.
“That’s not just Marek, that’s what I ask of all the players. Today can happen to anyone, you can have bad days, you can off days, of course you do, but the most important thing for me is that every single one of them comes in, doesn’t point fingers, points the finger straight back at themselves and works harder than ever to put wrongs right, have a big week next week, and let’s go to [Derby on] Friday and see what that brings.”