West Ham’s Parker is shouldering the pressure
Hammer of the Year Scott Parker put in a stunning performance against Liverpool on Sunday, but should not have been playing because of injury.
AS SCOTT PARKER received his bottle of champagne as man of the match against Liverpool on Sunday, few would have known that just a few hours earlier he was out of the vital Premier League clash.
It was a stunning, goalscoring performance from the West Ham talisman, but after injuring his shoulder the day before, it was a scenario that manager Avram Grant had given up on.
“I prepared the team without him,” admitted the West Ham boss after Sunday’s stunning 3-1 victory. “Yesterday night we thought that he couldn’t play. It was in training, five minutes before the end and it was a bad, bad injury.
“He couldn’t move his arms and the medical department said he couldn’t play, but I must say that they did a good job, treating him over the last 24 hours, but he is the person who decided to play.”
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Perhaps we should not be surprised. While the team have struggled to get the results to haul them away from the drop zone, the two-time Hammer of the Year, has been a model of consistency.
Grant knows just how special he is: “I don’t like to compare, but he is the type of player I like, he always gives 100 per cent, and is always positive,” explained the West Ham manager.
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“You know, we are in the modern life so we see many things that are modern, but I like some things that are old fashioned, players that come and give everything and it doesn’t matter how much money they earn.
“It is a game of passion. I am his manager for less than a year, but I like him very much. He is the type of player that I would like to have at any place where I work.”
Parker’s big moment came after 22 minutes on Sunday. He collected the ball on the right side, played a clever one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger, before placing a shot into the corner of the net.
However, the 30-year-old England international was modest in describing his seventh goal of the campaign.
“Obviously it was great build-up,” said the midfielder. “There was some nice play and it has just come to me on the outside of my foot and I didn’t really have any other option but to do that.
“Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t and this time it obviously crept in.”
It was a sublime finish and it also illustrated just how important the arrival of Hitzlsperger has been for West Ham and for Parker’s game.
“Thomas has brought experience obviously,” explained Parker. “He was one of the most outstanding players in pre-season but unfortunately he got injured.
“But now he is back and he has brought us some experience and definitely some quality as well.”
Hitzlsperger and Parker’s partnership could be the vital component of West Ham’s survival hopes, but the England man knows that there is still a lot of work to do.
“It’s very tight and it has been tight like that for a long while now,” said Parker. “Obviously beating Liverpool gives us some hope. We need to believe that we can get out of the mess we are in and I am confident we can.”
Parker clutched his champagne and looked shattered, but it is that sort of determination that is going to get the Hammers out of trouble as Grant knows only too well.
“I think one of the things I am very happy with in this team is that despite all the problems, the spirit is very high and I think that ‘Scotty’ is the best example of this,” said Grant.
“He had an injection, but he needed more than that. We didn’t know whether to try the treatment or not, but Scott is a special guy.”
He certainly is, and West Ham fans will be praying that his shoulder heals quickly, it may well be the difference between Premier League or Championship football next season.