Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scott Parker - Born to Play for Tottenham

Parker Joins Tottenham for £5 million

Throughout every transfer period players are linked with Tottenham Hotspur.  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 on this occasion one of them has finally been transferred to Spurs.  That player is Scott Parker - it has taken a long time for him to get to White Hart Lane but he has finally made it.

Scott Parker
Scott Parker has become a Tottenham Hotspur player at last.  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, it was confirmed by the club at 14.10, less than nine hours before the end of the summer transfer period, that a deal had been concluded.

This is not the first occasion that rumours were rife about Parker coming to White Hart Lane.  It has happened every time that he has 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 Hotspur have history for this - trying to sign the same player, transfer window after window.  In the past it has not always been successful.  In the mid-1990s, Gerry Francis pursued the transfer of Ramon Vega who clearly stated he didn't want to come to Tottenham.  However, in January, 1997, less than eight months later he was signed from Cagliari for £3.75million.  Vega wasn't the greatest player to pull on the white shirt of Tottenham although he did appear in the 1999 Worthington Cup Final.

Stewart Downing is another player who has often been linked with Spurs but has never signed.  While at Middlesbrough, there was such speculation of a transfer that when he played at White Hart Lane in an early season fixture, it was widely regarded by fans and media that that game would be his last for Boro before he signed for Tottenham during the final days of the August transfer period.  It didn't happen but the speculation was accurate enough because in an interview in the Sunday Times ahead of the match against Liverpool, he confirmed that there had been discussions that August, the following January and again the next summer, although by that time he was injured and Tottenham were reluctant to conclude a deal under such circumstances so he joined Aston Villa.

During recent transfer periods the names of many strikers have been in Tottenham's sights with reported offers having been made and rejected - the same names over and over again - Diego Forlan, Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Giuseppe Rossi - but none of them have signed.  At least this summer's deal for Scott Parker was completed  and on the evidence of his first two games for the club, he seems to be exactly what the team needs in midfield. 

Parker - the Midfield General

Scott Parker is very much the type of player Harry Redknapp likes to sign - a player he knows, someone with experience, a reliable player who will fit into the team, a player of character, a leader on the field and one who is combative but skilful as well.  Parker fits all of those categories and on the evidence of his first two matches for Spurs he looks as if he has been playing in the team for a lifetime.  He has linked very well with Luka Modric and has brought composure to central midfield where previous occupants have on occasions tended towards the 'headless chicken' approach - here, there and everywhere but not very effective or productive.  Didier Zakora brought a great deal of energy to midfield but much of it was wasted and while Wilson Palacios was combative, too often he gave away free-kicks or lost the ball with a poor pass.  Others, like Jermaine Jenas could on occasions go missing and the game passed him by and while Tom Huddlestone's great strength is his array of passing but his lack of pace and mobility were a handicap.

Parker appears to read the game well and can intercept passes before they reach their destination, he is combative without being over committed in the tackle which can lead to unnecessary tackles in dangerous positions and conceding unwanted free-kicks.  Parker's passing is controlled and while not the fastest player he is quite mobile around the pitch and links up well with the players around him.  Modric and he have have developed a good understanding of their combined role in the team and worked well together, giving Modric the freedom to go forward and be more creative in hi slink up play.

John White
Watching Parker in his first two games, his style of running reminds me of seeing football played in the mid-1960s and someone else suggested that he reminded them of the late, great John White who graced the 'Double' winning team before his tragic loss in 1964.  If Parker were to contribute half of what White brought to Tottenham, he would indeed be a great signing.  It is still early days in Parker's Spurs' career and only time will tell.

Captain Material?
Danny Blanchflower
It is many years since Tottenham have been captained by a player in midfield.  Many of the best Spurs teams have had midfield players as their captain - Ron Burgess, Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay, Alan Mullery, Martin Peters and Steve Perryman in his early days.  The more recent captains have been defenders or strikers and the great Bill Nicholson always thought that it was best to have a side with a captain in midfield where they were in contact with all the players and could lead by example.

Gary Mabbutt and Ledley king have been two captains who have led by example and set very high standards for themselves but King, in particular, is a quiet, undemonstrative player who is an excellent example of total commitment for the team in defence but he is isolated from the rest of the team by nature of his position.  In a similar way, strikers tend to be greedy looking for the scoring chance for themselves and have quite enough to focus and can't be so involved when the team is under pressure.

In midfield, Parker would look to be an ideal candidate to replace King if he is absent through injury.  he has fulfilled that role previously to good effect, leading by example in a weak West Ham team who were struggling in their battle against relegation.  He has the experience to take on such a role and command the respect of the players around him.  Although in a struggling side last year he maintained his own standards to win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award - a rarity as the winner of such awards usually comes from one of the more successful teams.

Scott Parker has settled in the Spurs team with ease and as someone suggested, if only he had come sooner he might have become a Spurs' legend. 


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