Scott Parker has warned Fulham not to get into a “spiral of negativity” over their losing start to the season, or they'll be “buried”.
Two defeats and seven goals conceded have left the newly promoted side's credentials being questioned, and has them earmarked as early relegation contenders.
But Parker is using his experience of playing at West Ham and Newcastle – where a run of three or four bad results would spark a “massive crisis" – to guide Fulham through a sticky patch.
Fulham will have to scrap for every point to stay in the top flight and have been warned their levels will have to rise “ten fold” to compete.
Parker said: “My main point is that we will lose games this year and we can't afford to take that into a negative spiral.
“I have been involved in relegations and what gets you relegated in the end is that spiral effect, a knock on effect where slowly the atmosphere, confidence, team spirit, cohesion saps you and buries you.
“From my time at West Ham, from my time here when we got relegated, the defeats are going to happen. But you can’t afford to let the noise affect you.
“The noise was from the outside, the whole ‘two on the bounce, three on the bounce’, ‘they’ve not done this, they’ve not done that’.
“The teams I was involved in were teams that didn’t understand that.
“Two, three, four negative results, it was a massive crisis. A massive crisis. And before you know it confidence is low, the whole club has a negative feel. ‘We’re going to struggle’.
“For sure, for this club this year and my team, I won’t let that happen. I don’t want that to happen because I know how important it is going to be.”
Accepting that the season will be a rocky ride is far from being “defeatist, Parker believes. He explained he is working on his players mindsets to be tough and focus on elements they can improve.
He added: “It’s the reality. Like anything in life, if you have a sense of realism and a sense of reality of what something is going to look like, then it’s always easy to understand and to go into that and work with it.
“My point is, for my team, my players and us as a football club – and I include the fans as well – if we have an expectation this year that we’re going to be tenth in this division, or we’re not going to lose three on the bounce, then there’s a fine line…
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“It’s not a defeatist (attitude), I don’t want my players to accept that, but at the same time we need to understand that that is probably the reality of what we’re going to face.”
Having experienced a positive winning promotion season, the slog of the Premier League is different. “Football clubs when you lose football matches are not nice places,” said Parker.
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