You would have thought that the absence of your player of the season for the next four weeks would be a pretty detrimental thing if you were a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. And make no mistake, as Scott Parker begins his recovery from Achilles surgery, the Lilywhite’s will be loathe to miss his formidable presence in the Spurs midfield. But if you like your glasses half full, then there can in fact be positives to out take from it.
Forcing down a pie and a beer at White Hart Lane is hard enough during the interval, so the compulsory addition of humble pie to the catering list must have gone down like a lead balloon last season. Indeed, Scott Parker’s initial capture from West Ham for a reported £5.5million, hardly set the hearts of Spurs fan’s on fire. Whilst many will claim to have always backed the man now known as ‘Super Scott’, the realties felt very different for a majority last season.
He was dubbed the archetypal Redknapp signing; a hustling, bustling midfielder at the wrong end of his career brought in at a bargain rate. And to seal the deal, Parker was of course, a renowned t’riffic lad. He was hardly lampooned and supporters knew that their midfield was in need of a bit of steel and a boost of testosterone. But he wasn’t particularly craved at White Hart Lane, for want of a better word.
Fast forward 12 months later and you could argue that bar the imminent loss of Luka Modric, Parker’s forced absence from the team is one of the summer’s biggest blows for Tottenham Hotspur. Last season demonstrated just how long Spurs have been crying out for a player like Parker. A natural born competitor, he was so much more than just an enforcer, more the glue that stuck the team together. It’s such a clichéd view, but whilst the artistry of Modric was the metronome, Parker was the power source- the fuel that kept the team going.
And judging by the way Spurs are looking going into Saturday’s encounter with Newcastle, his injury couldn’t come at a worse time. Andre Villas-Boas needs a good start to get his project kicking off the ground and an away trip to last season’s surprise package could be something of a baptism of fire. Parker is just the sort of player who could stifle the movement of Yohan Cabaye and stand up to the presence of Cheick Tiote in midfield. No team needs a loss on the first day of the season, but especially not a new manager looking to bed in quickly. The loss of Parker harms Spurs chances of a result this weekend.
But to wheel out another immortally stale adage, as one-door closes, another one opens. Parker’s absence gives the chance for someone else to come and take his place and it isn’t necessarily all doom and gloom. In face, the results in the long run could be more important than what anyone expects.
As the Luka Modric transfer saga, which has cast a horrible shadow over Tottenham’s pre-season, looks to come to an end, the future shape of their team is about to get a whole lot clearer. Assumptions are always dangerous in football, but as has been widely reported, the big delay in the Croatian’s departure is down to Spurs’ desire to bring in a replacement. Considering the gravitas that Modric held within the team, we can safely assume that Daniel Levy is going to invest a fair whack of it into this replacement. For example, the clubs aren’t going to pay £20million plus for someone like Joao Moutinho, just to have him kicking about on the bench.
Speculation surrounding the likes of Yann M’Vila could indeed be well-founded, but Modric’s replacement is perhaps the one guaranteed addition (let’s not even entertain the failure to acquire another striker) to this team. If so, that’s already one of the two deeper, holding spaces in the new AVB set-up taken. That leaves the likes of Parker, Sandro, Huddlestone, Livermore and Jenas to fight it out for the remaining spot. Five into one isn’t a great fit.
Before people start flying off the handle, one would expect Jenas to depart before the transfer window slams shut. But during pre-season, Villas-Boas seems to have been more comfortable with deploying the much-maligned midfielder than Tom Huddlestone. As difficult as some may find it to perceive, one of the two will surely go but who that is, remains to be seen.
Livermore proved last season he is an exciting prospect and he was solid and reliable prospect whenever called upon last season. But the real stand out name on that list is Sandro. The Brazilian is a wonderful prospect and towards the end of last season, supporters started to get a taste of the player’s real potential.
He has all the tools to be the future of this club; he isn’t just your normal holding midfielder, if he can even be described as one. His positioning and tackling are as superb as your classic water-carrier’s, but he has something more than that. He can retain possession under pressure; he’s not afraid of receiving the ball in hideous positions and nine times out of ten, he distributes the ball cleanly and precisely. Add to that a superb engine and a stinging eye for goal and there’s no reason why he can’t cement a place as one of the league’s most dominating midfielders.
But he simply has to play. His acclimatization to English football perhaps took longer than what most people expected, but that is rendered academic. He is ready to play now and if Spurs don’t utilize him, someone else will. This is why Parker’s absence, as hard as it may seem to believe at the moment, could become a positive. If Sandro steps up to the plate and helps negotiate Spurs through their opening fixtures safely, then the long-term effects could be huge.
Scott Parker is the better Premier League player, but Sandro is the superior footballer. The only way that can ever change is if the Brazilian gets time in the team. He is yet to train under Villas-Boas yet, but the Portuguese must be brave and throw him in at the deep end on Saturday. Both Parker and Sandro could yet co-exist in this Spurs team. But the Brazilian deserves the chance to establish himself alongside Modric’s replacement- his talent almost demands it. Parker might be the present, but Sandro is the future.
Careers are sometimes defined by these little makes and breaks that we see. The loss of Parker for at least a month is a big blow for Spurs. But Sandro has the chance to turn that negative into a massive plus- transforming both the fate of his team and his own destiny in the process.
Can Scott Parker’s loss finally give Sandro the platform to establish himself as a first-team regular? Or do you think Parker’s presence in this Spurs team is irreplaceable? Get involved with the Spurs talk on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me how view Sandro’s role at White Hart Lane.