Scott Parker said he owes nobody an apology for fielding a strong Fulham team in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham despite Jose Mourinho suggesting otherwise.
Spurs were originally due to host Fulham on December 30 before the game was postponed hours before kick-off due to a coronavirus outbreak within Parker’s squad – something which had frustrated Mourinho.
With Tottenham’s Premier League trip to Aston Villa, scheduled for Wednesday, postponed due to an outbreak in the Villa camp, the Premier League rescheduled the London derby for the same night, which ended in a 1-1 draw as Spurs missed the chance to move up to third.
In the build-up, Mourinho had said Fulham should apologise to the rest of the Premier League if they fielded their strongest side in Wednesday’s rearranged fixture, as he dismissed Parker’s grievances.
Parker made just one change from the team that drew with Southampton on Boxing Day – their last Premier League match, but revealed many of his players had suffered problematic preparations for the Spurs game due to the virus and the isolation period.
“I owe no one an apology, this football club owes no one an apology,” Parker said.
“You can talk from the outside and 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 that had only trained for one day, they’d come back from Covid-19 and played in that game. I had players on the pitch that had just three or four days of training. The issue for me regarding this fixture wasn’t having just two days to prepare for it. I understand that.
“The issue was 16 days ago this game was scheduled in but since then we’ve had 10 positive cases, including a couple of staff and then on Monday morning we got told we had to play this game. That was my issue. People understood the predicament we were in – we wasn’t making it up. We’ve been very open, in terms of the safety of others too.
“This team came with a purpose and two days of hard work. In the end, we go away with a pleasing result.”
Mourinho admitted he wasn’t surprised Parker was able to pick a strong side for the encounter, intimating he already knew who was and wasn’t available as “it’s very difficult to keep secrets” in the football world.
He said: “Look, I truly believe, I have to believe and I know the top hierarchy at Fulham Football Club and we’re dealing with honest people and of course they had problems. Of course, the reason why we didn’t play the game when we should, there were reasons for that. Let’s put that very, very, very clear.
“The reason why they were not happy to play today is a different, questions you have to ask Scott not me. But in the football world, it’s very difficult to keep secrets.
“Somebody tells somebody who tells somebody who tells somebody and it arrives to somebody else. And of course we knew for a few days that they were ready and had the players to come.
“Mitrovic is not a Covid situation, [he] had a small injury from the last match. We knew that so it’s something you have to ask Scott. But make things very, very clear. Of course, they had problems and of course, there was a reason for them not to play the game a couple of weeks ago.”
Jose: We should have killed the game
Mourinho was left frustrated that Tottenham dropped more points in their pursuit of the Premier League pacesetters.
Mourinho’s men looked in full control of the game when Harry Kane headed home a fantastic Sergio Reguilon cross but a second goal evaded them as Heung-Min Son was denied in spectacular fashion by Alphonse Areola just before the break and then struck the post on 72 minutes.
“Not good enough, but good enough to win,” Mourinho declared.
“Not good enough because I think we have to play better in a more consistent way, but good enough to create four or five big chances, good enough to give Hugo in a very quiet evening.
“Good enough to win the game but not good enough because we have to play better than we did.
“In the first half we had chances to kill the game. Some of them are Areola’s responsibility. In the second half we had the biggest chance to kill the game but when you don’t do it you cannot concede goals the way we did do it.
“This is the same story basically since the beginning of the season. We can talk about not killing the game yes, we can speak about that, and today was a clear situation where we could and should have killed the game in the first half.”