When we line up against Fulham on Sunday, former Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker will be in the opposition dugout as caretaker manager, and he isn’t the only member of our first Premier League-winning side taking some big steps in his coaching career.
London-native Parker joined Chelsea from Charlton Athletic in January 2004 and was named PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of that season. He was also part of our squad which claimed the Premier League title in 2004/05, although the presence of the likes of Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard meant he found it hard to hold down a place in the side.
A serious injury also didn’t help matters, meaning he missed the conclusion of our victorious League Cup campaign after featuring in the first three rounds, and he moved on to Newcastle in the summer of 2005.
The 38-year-old has now been appointed as Fulham’s interim manager, his first senior management role. He previously worked as Tottenham’s Under-18s coach before returning to Craven Cottage (where he finished his playing career) last summer to become a first-team coach. Parker will now face another of his former clubs, Chelsea, when he makes his management debut this weekend.
In a strange twist of fate, the man he has replaced on the Fulham bench is not only another with Blues links, but also the manager who took him to Stamford Bridge, Claudio Ranieri. Parker was Ranieri’s last signing for the Blues, before the Italian left the club at the end of 2003/04.
Bizarrely, the first player the Italian signed at Chelsea in October 2000, Slavisa Jokanovic, was the person Ranieri had himself replaced as Fulham manager back in November. They certainly seem to like managers with a link to their neighbours at the Cottage this season.
Coincidentally, in the same week as Parker has been handed a chance at management, one of his team-mates at Stamford Bridge in 2004/05 has also been in the news after taking a significant step in his own blossoming coaching career. In fact, Damien Duff played alongside Parker at Chelsea, Newcastle United and Fulham, before moving north of the border to join the coaching staff with Celtic’s reserve side in January.
Just over a month later, with former Blues reserve boss Brendan Rodgers departing Celtic to join Leicester City, Duff was asked to move up to a first-team coaching role by the Scottish champions’ new manager Neil Lennon.
With John Terry also assistant manager at Aston Villa, who host a Derby County side managed by Frank Lampard in the Championship on Saturday, Carlo Cudicini on Maurizio Sarri’s coaching staff here, plus Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira working in our Academy, Chelsea’s 2004/05 vintage are clearly still in demand in British football even after hanging up their boots.