Scott Parker – at Last!
In every transfer period players are linked with Tottenham. There are a number of players who are constantly connected with the club and are expected to sign for Spurs ‘any day now’. In most cases none of these players join the club but in August, 2011 one of them completed their transfer to White Hart Lane. That player was Scott Parker – it had taken a long time for him to get to White Hart Lane but he had finally made it.
Parker became a Spurs player on Tuesday, 31st August, 2011 after months of speculation and newspaper stories that he would be leaving West Ham United following their relegation and that he was more than likely going to sign for Spurs. The transfer was confirmed by the club at 14.10, less than nine hours before the end of the summer transfer period.
The summer of 2011 was not the first occasion that rumours were rife about Parker coming to White Hart Lane. It had happened every time that he moved club. In January, 2004, after speculation over some years that he would leave Charlton Athletic, he signed for Chelsea. Eighteen months later, having had little playing time at Stamford Bridge, he moved to Newcastle United. After two years on Tyneside, he returned to London but not to Tottenham, instead, he signed for West Ham United. On each occasion that he was transferred during that three and a half year period, the Tottenham manager at the time, Martin Jol, was very keen to get the signature of Scott Parker but to no avail.
Tottenham have history for this – trying to sign the same player, transfer window after window – and they’re still doing it!
Parker – the Midfield General
Scott Parker was very much the type of player Harry Redknapp likes to sign – a player he knows, someone with experience, a reliable player who fits into the team, a player with character, a leader on the field and one who is combative but skilful as well. Parker fitted all of those categories and he quickly made an impression at Spurs. He linked very well with Luka Modric and brought composure to central midfield where previous occupants had on occasions tended towards the ‘headless chicken’ approach – here, there and everywhere but not very effective or productive.
Parker reads the game well, is composed on the ball, determined when not in possession, tough in the tackle and careful in his distribution bringing a decade of Premier League experience to White Hart Lane. He is combative without being over committed in the tackle but was quite prepared for a battle with Michael Brown at Leeds United. While not the fastest player he is quite mobile around the pitch and links up well with the players around him. He is totally committed and frequently leaves the pitch exhausted from the effort put in thoughout the ninety minutes. This was evident in his Spurs’ performances last season and for England at Euro 2012.
The ‘New Dave Mackay’
Watching Parker, his style of running reminds me of seeing football played in the mid-1960s. After two months with Spurs, Harry Redknapp labelled Parker as the ‘new Dave Mackay’. To have been compared with the legendary Dave Mackay is an incredible accolade and every Spurs supporter is well aware of the tremendous influence Mackay brought to the ‘Double’ team and the success of Bill Nicholson in the 1960s. After Spurs defeated QPR in October, 2011 Redknapp said,
“Parker was just amazing, I haven’t seen many displays like that. You hate to mention anyone in the same breath as Dave Mackay, who was one of finest players at this club, but it was right up there with the best.”
This season, the injury Parker sustained with England during the summer was slow to heal and he didn’t return to fitness until early December. By that time, Sandro and Mousa Dembele had made the central midfield positions their own. Parker had to be patient but the injury to Sandro at Loftus Road in mid-January gave him the opportunity to reclaim his place. With the transfer window closed and Sandro out for the remainder of the season, Tottenham will be relying on Parker to bring a balance to midfield as they engage in a battle for a top four finish.
For years Tottenham lacked a combative midfield player who could play with authority. In Parker, now nearing the end of his top class career, they have finally acquired a player who can bring those qualities to the team. It took a long time to come about but it was almost as if he was born to play for Tottenham.