Scott Parker has been voted 2011 Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association. The West Ham midfielder is believed to have beaten off stiff competition from the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Jack Wilshire, Luis Nani, and Gareth Bale who won this years PFA Footballer of the Year award last week.
However, while no one would begrudge the likable Hammers midfielder the award – he has been the only ray of light at Upton Park this season – one must ask how Luis Nani of Manchester United fame did not win either the FWA or PFA awards?
Make no mistake about it, Scott Parker has easily been West Ham’s best player this season. Not a week goes by where he isn’t named the Hammers Man-of-the-Match. Such are his high level of performances that Fabio Capello has even decided to recall the 30-year-old to the England set-up after a five year hiatus.
Like any fine wine, Parker has seemingly gotten better with age and is now playing at a high level with a consistency few thought he was capable of. The combative central midfielder looks to have finally realised that he does not need to go for 50 and 60 yard passes to be noticed in a match and if anything he has strengthened his simplistic approach to the game with experience. Now, instead of going for “the Beckham” and invariably losing possession, he goes for the simple pass and helps his team retain the very important control of the ball. He is now not afraid to play the game as he sees it and each decision on the ball is taken on its merits.
In short, with experience, he knows which passes to pick out and when to use them.
Such is Parker’s good form this term that he is now constantly linked with a move away from the Hammers should they be relegated. Recently, certain newspapers have linked the England midfielder with moves across London to Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur and to Arsenal as Cesc Fabregas’ replacement, if the Gunners captain leaves for Barcelona as expected this summer.
One of the few players to play for England at every level from U-15, Parker has always had a reputation as a tenacious midfielder. Not afraid to put in a tackle or close the opposition down, and with good technical ability, he is now reaching the level that many thought had passed him years ago.
FWA chairman, Steve Bates, said: “Scott Parker has been so consistent this season with his performances in a West Ham team battling for Barclay’s Premier League survival and as such has forced himself back into the England national set-up.He has been an inspirational figure for the Irons and hopefully his professionalism will be rewarded with West Ham staying up at the end of the season.“In what was one of the tightest votes of recent seasons, Scott is certainly a worthy winner and follows in the footsteps of a long line of superb footballers who have been given this prestigious honour.
There can be little doubt that Scott Parker has had a very good season and is held in high regard by his fellow players and journalists alike.
So why isn’t Nani?
The little Portuguese has always lived in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, but over the last year or two he has begun to emerge as a real talent and power within the game. Like Parker in a way, experience has been key to Nani’s improvement.
He has finally realised that he no longer has to out shine his team mates to be noticed to grab headlines and like Scott Parker, he has finally come to terms with the fact that the team are all important and always come first.
One of the first rules any Manchester United players learns is self sacrifice over self preservation. It has taken the 24-year-old four seasons at Old Trafford to learn this truth. 2010/11 has been the wingers most productive season yet. There can be little doubt that Manchester United circa 2011 are not as good as previous teams gone by. However, one thing they have perhaps more than any other Sir Alex Ferguson side is character. They just do not know when to lie down, and never give up.
With such experience and togetherness, Nani has been given a platform to flourish this year and is easily the Red Devils most consistent performer. While DimitarBerbatov flits in and out of the season like a fly chasing a light and while Wayne Rooney struggled to overcome his turbulent year, Nani and Nemanja Vidic have come together to carry United towards yet another title, a record breaking one at that.
This year, Nani has made a bigger contribution towards his team than any other player in the league. His level of performance has been consistently high and he has weighed in with nine goals and 18 assists from just 29 league games. Considering that the Red Devils have played 33 games that is some record.
To be quite frank, he has been the only creative spark in a United midfield that has certainly looked bereft of ideas at the most important of times.
Whether asked to play on either flank or through the middle as a supporting midfielder, Nani has shown a great level of maturity in this his fourth season at Old Trafford. To such an extent, that many now feel that the young winger is one of the very best in the world in his position.
There can be little doubt that Scott Parker has had a fantastic season, but Nani has been just that little bit better.