Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Fulham manager Scott Parker on effect of abuse after telling Ryan Sessegnon to avoid social media
Last Updated: 16/03/19 6:49am
Fulham boss Scott Parker has told Sky Sports how players are "vulnerable" to abuse after asking Ryan Sessegnon to ignore social media.
The temporary boss, who has taken on his first management role with the Cottagers at the age of 38, has plenty on his plate - keeping the club in the Premier League despite inheriting a squad 10 points from safety.
But improving the atmosphere around the club was always going to involve more than a simple tactical switch, or a change in personnel.
Some of the club's brightest prospects had been underperforming all season, including Ryan Sessegnon, who scored 15 Championship goals last season at the age of just 17 but has netted just twice since promotion.
Last week, Parker took to the media to defend Sessegnon and backed him to improve in a bid to boost his confidence - and said the negativity of social media had "definitely" played its part in his difficult season.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's game with Liverpool, live on Sky Sports, Parker opened up on how difficult he believes it can be for players to shake off internet abuse - and how he had advised Sessegnon to get through it.
He said: "I feel like I can give advice on it because when I was dealing with it, it was on a Sunday morning in the press, in a paper, and it was the same in that someone would write something and have an opinion.
"That's the world we're in and I see that as part of it, of course, but certainly that has now intensified to where everyone has got an opinion, it's there for everyone to see and when you are in the spotlight and you're striving to be a top Premier League footballer like Ryan is and like lots of players are, you can't hide from that.
"I'm just saying it's wrong, you just have to work out mechanisms to adapt to it and not let it affect you. The point I make about Ryan is, as a young boy when you're just trying to learn your trade, you're trying to work out yourself at times, that extra pressure from outside sources can have a big effect.
"I've just tried to explain to him about to work out strategies to try and cope with that.
"I think it has a massive impact and, ultimately, we're human. I've got a thick skin, I think I've got that from 20 years of being in this profession but I'm still vulnerable at times. I'm vulnerable at 38 years of age when I've seen it all and I've read it all about me, the negativity around it."
Fulham take on Liverpool at Craven Cottage on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event, looking to pick up just a fifth league win of the season to keep their slim hopes of survival alive.
Parker is backing his side to have the ability to cause an upset in the title race while dragging themselves closer to avoiding the drop, but is determined to instil excitement, over fear, in his ailing side for the visit of Liverpool, fresh from an impressive win over Bayern Munich in their last away trip.
He said: "It's going to be a massive test for us. They don't come any harder than a team that is fighting at the right end of the table for the championship with a fantastic manager, individual players and as a team as well. They're going to cause us a lot of problems but, I'll say it again, games like this are what these boys, only nine months ago at Wembley, battled through a hard Championship season to play in.
"It has been a tough season, of course it has, but Liverpool at home, Man City to follow, as a footballer, they're the games you want to play in. Is there fear a bit? I'm sure there is but there should also be excitement, real excitement to go and play against the best and prove your worth.
"I'm not stupid, we need to get some results on the board. I said when I was appointed, I will treat this as a long-term job. Everything I do will be for the long term, there is no short fixes and that is the cold reality of it.
"Can we raise standards? Can we raise quality? Can we bring a belief back here which not only the players believe but the fans believe and the staff believe - and bring a bit of an identity back.
"I think after eight games, if I can do that, whether I'm here or I'm not here, I'll be extremely happy."