As Scott Parker got substituted after 85 minutes against Queens Park Rangers last Sunday, I was one of the 36,000+ Spurs fans singing his name aloud and giving him a well deserved standing ovation that manager Harry Redknapp no doubt thought he earned after a performance Redknapp described as ‘just amazing’. Not for the first time this season he had delivered a man of the match performance for his latest Premier League club. On the way home I found myself thinking ‘how did we ever function without him?’, whilst I also thought ‘I didn’t realise he was this good’.
For outsiders who look at Parker’s career, he looks like a bit of a Premier League journeyman, having played for 5 different Premier League sides by the age of 30 – on average that’s a new club every 3 years, which could suggest he couldn’t quite cut it wherever he was, the kind of player who has ‘bags’ of potential, but never quite realises it. I am now confident that if you ask the fans of these 5 clubs (maybe no CFC) honestly how good Parker is, they would no doubt sing the praises of this unassuming midfielder, because until you see him play week-in, week-out, you truly don’t appreciate the difference this one man can make.
It seems to me that Parker has truly realised his ability and how good he actually is, I think he realised it at West Ham, Hammers fan won’t like this but at Spurs Parker’s ability can truly be showcased to a bigger audience and enhance an already glowing reputation. Redknapp agrees that “only at West Ham did he become a big player and now he has taken it on. He is in the best part of his footballing career”. The need to prove himself and make people believe how good he is, like when he was at Chelsea, has gone and the real, more mature, Scott Parker has already established himself in a good Spurs midfield, whilst also establishing himself in the dressing room as an ‘inspirational’ leader.
Last season he was named the Football Associations Player of Season, many thought this was over-the-top for a player that played for a team that was relegated, but West Ham fans and many others in the media knew this accolade was fully deserved. I was one of many who thought surely the star player in a team that was relegated wasn’t worthy of such a recognition, putting it bluntly, I was wrong and so were many others – a lot of whom were Spurs fans that didn’t want him to join the club during the summer.
Harry Redknapp has told us of his pleading with Daniel Levy, the savvy businessman, to sign Parker as a player that ‘will make the difference to the team’. Levy had the same reservations as many Spurs fans that saw Parker as an aging midfielder with no long term benefit to the club, but Harry persisted and his judgement was as ‘spot on’ as a Big Mac on a hangover.
Scott Parker now has a massive season ahead of him, as well as being a pivotal cog in the Spurs wheel; he is now an established regular for England and will certainly be going to Euro 2012, barring any injury. For Spurs he has brought the stability and structure that the team needed and will be the driving force behind Spurs’ push for Champions League football. He is the work horse, the defensive lynch pin of the side. He breaks up opposing teams attacks, shields the defence, moves the ball quickly and lets the more creative players take up the mantle whilst being prepared to intervene if they lose the ball.
One of the most telling signs of his impact at Spurs is how much praise he has already received from his teammates. Gareth Bale said after the QPR match “He covers every blade of grass over every game and does a very important job for the team. He lets the lads me, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Adebayor and Modric do what we want”. Spurs top scorer, Rafael Van der Vaart, simply said “Scott Parker is at the moment maybe our best player. It’s amazing to watch him, how he tackles, how he runs” which is high praise for a player with such experience.
After his titanic display against QPR he was compared by Redknapp to Spurs legend Dave MacKay. Mackay is one of the most celebrated players in Spurs history, so that was high praise in itself, and whilst I can see the likeness in the attitude, determination and skill in Parker, MacKay is written in to the history books at Tottenham as a legend who was one of the best ever. This is where I feel sorry for Parker, he has the ability and attitude that deserves the title ‘legend’ at a club and although he will certainly be remembered fondly by Charlton, West Ham and Spurs fans, I don’t think he will have legend status at any club.
This is the same at international level, the quality Parker possess makes me feel like he should have been an established England international for some time, when defensive centre midfield has been a problem position for England. The Barry’s and the Carrick’s of this world have hardly carved out a legacy in that position for England and the sad thing is Parker could have been another Bryan Robson had he found a club, like West Ham or Spurs, to settle at again sooner.
I wonder if Mr Wenger and Mr Ferguson have been watching Parker’s performances so far this season and thinking that they have made a huge mistake in not going for him during the summer. Certainly Arsenal could use a player like him to protect their shaky defensive line and lead a young midfield, whilst United for me are still short a ball winning midfielder. After seeing Scott Parker close up this season I defy any football fan of any Premier League club to say that they wouldn’t want him in their team. Scott Parker now has the stage domestically and internationally to showcase his talents, it is just a pity he didn’t have this sooner.
Come on Scott Parker your time is now!