It is a strange truth of Scott Parker’s young managerial career that there were more grumbles from Fulham’s supporters last year, in their promotion campaign in the Championship, than during this season, which has ended in a painful relegation. A year ago, when Fulham finished fourth in the Championship and won promotion thanks to a dramatic win in the play-off final, there were large chunks of the Fulham fanbase who were unconvinced by Parker’s work as manager. By contrast this year, with relegation from the top flight confirmed after 35 matches, the 40-year-old’s reputation seems to have been enhanced — to such an extent that he has been linked with the Tottenham Hotspur job. Why? Partly, it seems, it comes down to expectations. Fulham started this season so badly, with a team so desperately in need of new signings, that it has at times felt like an achievement for them to have even put up a fight at all. Perhaps it also comes down to what we expect from managers in the modern game. It depends on the club and the context, but loosely we can break it down into three categories: the team’s performances and results, the "culture" and "identity" of the club, and the image projected by the manager. This season, Parker has emphatically ticked two of those boxes. At Fulham he has done an impressive job of forming a strong connection with his players, many of whom were new arrivals, and building a genuine sense of togetherness within the group. As a club, Fulham failed spectacularly in this regard in their previous season in the Premier League, in 2018/19. It is therefore a measure of Parker’s man-management skills that he has bonded this squad together, not least because so many of their players are loanees. He made clear following their defeat by Burnley on Monday that the effort and spirit of his players has never been in question this season, and there is no evidence to the contrary. As for the image projected by Parker, some readers might scoff at the thought of this being important. It matters, though. Of course it does. The manager is the face of the club, the spokesman for the team and the man who is tasked with forming the connection with the supporters. Jurgen Klopp, as just one example, has shown how powerful it can be when a manager has that clarity of communication with the outside world. Unai Emery, as another example, showed how damaging it can be when that connection does not exist. Parker is not Klopp, and he has not had Fulham’s supporters inside Craven Cottage this season, but he certainly looks the part and he definitely talks the part. Open, honest, realistic: Parker has not hidden behind excuses this season, nor has he ever claimed that he or Fulham are anything they are not. Parker carries himself well and, fundamentally, is likeable.