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First team

Parker keen to savour the moment

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Always immaculately turned out, Scott Parker could finally let his hair down.

Having guided AFC Bournemouth to promotion to the Premier League in his first season as head coach at Vitality Stadium, Parker achieved his aim.

And as the champagne corks continued to pop throughout the night, Parker was determined to enjoy every minute, something which he revealed was not easy for him.

In his first season in charge of previous club Fulham, the 41-year-old steered them to the top flight through the Championship play-offs but struggled to savour the moment.

While admitting his overriding emotion was one of “relief”, Parker also spoke candidly about the impact football management has had on his family.

Addressing the gathered media following the Cherries’ 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest, Parker said: “When I stepped into this building, I had one aim and that was to try to get this team promoted.

“I realised it was a big challenge but I can’t control expectation or a narrative. I’m a realist and I realised the challenges.

“You get to this point now and it’s relief. I’m relieved we got the job done. I’m pleased for everybody because there’s been a lot of hard work gone into it.

“I’ve got a habit of not enjoying moments, maybe that’s the job I’m in, maybe that’s just me as a person.

“As quickly as you have success, you are then going to be asked questions about the challenges of the Premier League, what that brings and it’s daunting.

“The pressures of that and what we need to do, I just need to park that for a bit and I need to enjoy the moment.

“We’re the ones who go out every day and we’re the ones who get judged on a Saturday. Families, players’ wives and girlfriends have to sacrifice a lot.

“Whether that’s less time with them, whether that’s me not being a dad as much or whether that’s me not being a great husband in certain moments.

“I hope the families, wives and girlfriends are proud and realise there are certain elements of a long ten months that are worth it and I hope that is now.

“They deserve to enjoy this moment and not live in the moment and that’s my worry.

“Sometimes, it’s not nice, the stresses of it. When you go home every Saturday, they feel it and see it. There aren’t many jobs in this world where you take the work home or people see the work. I’m going to enjoy it with them, definitely.”

Parker became the sixth man to lead the Cherries to promotion, following John Bond (1971), David Webb (1982), Harry Redknapp (1987), Sean O’Driscoll (2003) and Eddie Howe, who achieved three in five seasons between 2010 and 2015.

Described as “selfless” by Ahmed Shooble from The Athletic, Parker was asked by the football writer when he was going to start giving himself the credit for his achievements.

He replied: “I’m not sure. I do deep down. I’ve been a manager for three full seasons.

“In my first season, I took a club that was literally dismantled and absolutely blitzed to pieces and got them promoted.

“I then faced the next challenge which was the biggest league in the world with not a lot of finance. We didn’t spend a lot of money and were trying to compete with the world’s best so I realised the flaws with that.

“Ultimately, we failed. I felt we did an amazing job and had our moments but we failed.

“When I stepped into this job, I needed to get promoted again and I’ve done that.

“In the cold light of day when it’s all settled down and I have a little time by myself, I think I can probably realise that I’ve done an amazing job.

“Two clubs, two different teams, managing two different personnel, two different groups of players and I’ve managed to get it over the line, not just me, my staff as well.

“Yes, I’ll probably have a couple of beers and just chill and relax!”

Although Parker made a record-breaking start to his tenure – unbeaten in his first 15 games in the Championship – he admitted he knew promotion would not be all plain sailing.

He said: “Being brutally honest, I always knew 15 games unbeaten was probably a little false and I realised the squad were going to face some bumps.

“We faced many bumps internally and none was bigger than David Brooks and his cancer diagnoses.

“The news we got today was incredible because this football club and this group of players were rocked when we heard the news about him and it probably put things in perspective about football.

“We faced some challenges and it is a young group with players like Mark Travers, Jordan Zemura and Jaidon Anthony. Everyone lost sight of what these boys are and what they’ve done.

“This is the first season they have played in the league and some of these boys have come from being rejected by Premier League clubs, while Gavin Kilkenny came through a category three academy here.

“This season, they have had to fight at the top of this division, a tough division, to try to get in the Premier League and everyone forgets that so I’m delighted for them.

“I’m emotional, of course I am. The staff, the players, the owner and everyone associated with this club deserve this moment so I’m immensely proud and pleased for everyone.

“It’s been tough and everyone forgets at the start of the season, this group of players was a young group and it was very inexperienced.

“We lost players to injury and illness and there have been challenges. But the one thing about this group is they’ve been very resilient. I’m delighted for everybody.”

 

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