For a player who is now the wrong side of thirty, it is strange that only now Scott Parker is really being noticed and picking up the accolades he deserves. Whilst it may be normal in Serie A for players to only reach their peak in their latter years, in England being over thirty means you are officially past it – just ask Frank Lampard, after a couple of bad games the media were treating him like a dead man walking – yet Parker has only now blossomed into a top class player – or so it would seem.
Whilst it cannot be denied that Parker is in brilliant form, and has been for the last couple of seasons, he has not gone from being a mediocre player to a winner of the player of the year award over-night. At Charlton the midfielder was hailed as one of the best prospects in English football and enjoyed a good spell at the club, making a name for himself before an ill-fated transfer across London to Chelsea.
This move is something that can be attributed as a key factor in Parker’s career stalling and was a classic example of one step forward two steps back. At Chelsea Parker lost none of his ability, yet struggled to find a way into a team who had the best midfield in Europe at the time. No matter who you are, it would have been nigh on impossible to replace either Makelele or Lampard in the heart of Chelsea’s team, thus Parker’s opportunities were limited.
Despite winning the young player of the year award in 2003-2004, Parker struggled at the West London club, and this compounded with a metatarsal injury met he dropped off the radar for most people. It was after his transfer to Newcastle that Parker really started to rebuild his career, and having lost none of his talent he easily became a vital player for Newcastle, and showed he was captain material to boot.
Media and pundit attention was slowly falling back onto Parker, and he was beginning to get the respect he deserved, yet it took another couple of seasons before people really sat up and took notice of the player when he was the shining light in an otherwise awful season for West Ham. Much like Joe Cole, the skipper led by example both on and off the field, and could not have done more or played better than he did during their final season in the Premier League before relegation.
Not only is Parker a lion on the field, he is also widely acknowledged as being a superb motivator in the dressing room, with both John Terry and Carlton Cole saying his team talks were inspirational – Lampard called Parker’s pre match talk the best he had ever witnessed. Parker also displays a consistency that is lacking from a great number of players in the modern game, and is a consummate professional, so it seems strange that it is only now he has received the recognition and awards many may feel he deserved earlier in his career.
Of course, a mixture of injuries and lack of opportunities did make it hard for Parker, and it is always easier for people to give the so called ‘flare players’ praise, yet how much do Manchester United lack a player like Parker? It is players in his mould that are vital to the success of clubs, and how Redknapp will be thanking his wheeler dealer stars that he pushed for Parker to sign for Spurs.
It is this move which has brought further attention for the player – it stands to reason that the bigger the club the more attention individual players will attract, and Parker is finally getting the respect he deserves.
From an international perspective, the central midfielder has often been overlooked, unfairly, and has been yet another casualty of the Lampard – Gerrard problem – playing one and Parker alongside them could have been a clear option for England, yet this was an option that was never really explored. Not only does Parker have the ability to play for England, his attitude is something that our national team is in dire need of.
At a time when the captain of the national team is being investigated for racially abusing a fellow player and our star striker clearly has anger management issues when things are going awry off the field, a player like Parker would not go amiss.
It seems funny that the media are so quick to build up payers after a couple of good games, yet a player who has been a consummate professional throughout his career is only receiving the level of appreciation he deserves now. Of course stories on how well Parker performs are not nearly as interesting as the off the field antics of certain players – Mad Mario anyone – or speculation on who is next in line on the managerial chopping block. Yet Parker has been too good to ignore in the last couple of years, and not only does he deserve all the praise he is receiving, a place in the England starting line-up is something that would not be undeserved either.
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