In the wake of Manchester United’s dyer defeat away to Greek side Olympiakos, manager David Moyes has been quick to take the blame for his side’s performance.
The result, a comfortable 2-0 win for the home side, was if anything generous to the Premier League champions whose players looked withdrawn and disinterested throughout much of the encounter.
The dismal display then, served to further highlight the desperate need for new faces at Old Trafford, with the current squad looking beginning to look almost dilapidated in comparison to those of their domestic and continental rivals.
New signings Mata and Fellani, though logical buys, are in essence luxury players, though the performances of the latter perhaps merit that label in about the loosest way possible following his £27.5m move from Moyes’ former club Everton. Meanwhile, the form of longer serving players, something that could, when the club was under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson, be more or less relied upon has stuttered with players like Vidic and Van Persie failing to live up to expectations of late.
Thus at present, it would seem that the Red Devils require an evident leader, something that has been conspicuous by its absence in recent weeks.
One player in whom that quality is almost continually evident is Fulham’s Scott Parker. The midfielder, who has represented England at every level from under-16 onwards, has become renound for his high-effort performances which saw him become a regular for Roy Hodgson in the nation’s Euro 2012 campaign.
In the summer, with Spurs increasing ideas of grandeur that subsequently fell a little flat under then-manager Andre Villas Boas, it was evident that the midfielder would be available for the right price, which was almost certainly less than £5m.
Yet it was inexplicably relegated QPR who were the early front-runners for his signature, with none of the top-4 appearing the slightest bit interested, which considering the relatively nominal fee he would of commanded is little bizarre.
It’s not that he’s such a vocal leader on the pitch, or that he’s so phenomenally talented. What he is, however, is a bastion for an industrious, hard-working midfield game, something that fans’ have absolutely no trouble buying into and getting behind. Indeed, one would go as far as to say, if any player earns his money week in week out, it is without a doubt Scott Parker.
American Journalist William Saletan upon watching the 33-year old during his time at Tottenham commented “Parker doesn’t score or get credited with assists. He leaves that to the guys up front. What Parker does instead is win games. He does this not by punctuating the match but by controlling it. He smothers oncoming attacks. He forces opponents off the ball. He orchestrates distribution out of the back, setting in motion a Spurs onslaught that will culminate 60 yards downfield.
I’d seen Parker in TV highlights last year when he scored the odd goal for West Ham United. Otherwise, I’d hardly thought of him. But you can’t watch the game up close without noticing Parker.”
One would opine then, that it is exactly this kind of influence that United need right now, as opposed to the luxury (such as it is) of someone like Fellani, what the Old Trafford supporters crave at this time of discontent is players who will stand up and be counted.
During their years of plenty, united became the epitomes of the squad depth principle. Among those various collections over the players, have been the workhorse type characters that every team needs to have in reserve like Nicky Butt, Park Ji-Sung both of whom would work very hard for the cause and justify the place on the pitch when it arose.
A example of a regular starter with such qualities, would have been the Roy Keane of old. That is not to say for a second that Parker is a good as Roy Keane, he isn’t, but what he is is a player who can consistently be relied upon and who’s effort levels are almost uncompromising.
And a purchase like that, for the princely sum of £5m, wouldn’t have been a bad bet by a manager who’s motivational skills are coming under close scrutiny.