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Scott Parker couldn't handle the heat as Toon skipper

By Lee Ryder on Feb 29, 12 03:00 PM


It was interesting to hear Scott Parker's name thrown into the mix this week with England seeking yet another new captain.

Don't get me wrong, as a player I actually have a lot of time for Parker's energetic style of play.

And in an era when players often have the raw enthusiasm coached out of them through managers overthinking tactical battles, it's good to see players who just chase anything that moves on a football pitch.

That's what Parker brings to a team, if there were more like him at Spurs then maybe the Londoners might be realistic title contenders.

But having experienced Parker as captain at Newcastle, I beg to differ with those who feel he could offer a magic solution for England.

It was Glenn Roeder who appointed Parker as captain at St James' Park in the aftermath of Alan Shearer's retirement.

Back then it was always going to be tough for whoever followed Shearer as captain - just like it was for Obafemi Martins when he was handed the number 9 shirt.

Parker is a player who likes to get on with his own game and far from the type who has time to stop and take stock and organise his troops.

At Newcastle, he didn't have the presence like Shearer.

And while few actually did at the time, it would have been a safer bet to give the armband to somebody who knew the club better at the time such as Shay Given or Nobby Solano.

The role of skipper at Newcastle is a big one.

It's not just about what happens on the pitch, it's as much as what happens off the field and in and around the dressing rooms.

It's about the politics and understanding what the fans want and are saying within the domain of the Geordie community.

If anything, it's a huge job that can't be taken lightly.

Kevin Nolan took on that responsibility very well indeed last season, but when he was moved on it left such a huge void which Alan Pardew has filled with tact and intelligence.

Pardew accepted the role was so big, that he allocated some of the duties off the pitch to John Carver and some to Steve Stone.

So while Parker was always on a hiding to nothing anyway as skipper, it was no surprise that he didn't manage to lift the team enough during the 2006/07 at key times.

True, Roeder was without Michael Owen and suffered a spate of injuries.

But there were plenty of games in that campaign that Newcastle should have walked away with much more than they got.

Looking back on that season, United lost to the likes of Bolton, Sheff United, a then average Man City and Blackburn.

Parker even ended up having to apologise to fans after tensions boiled over during one game and he flipped by remarking to fans during the defeat against Sheff U.

Back then Parker said: "It was all heat-of-the-moment stuff when the passion and the pressure both boiled over.

"All I can say in my defence is that all the players want to win for these magnificent fans we have got here at Newcastle United.

"We know we were nowhere near what we should have been against Sheffield United on Saturday and that we did not apply ourselves.

"We have come in for a lot of criticism since Saturday but we have stuck together and we have got our reward tonight and now we are really looking forward to take things on from here."

Parker could not understand why the criticism was so hard at Newcastle at times.

The midfielder also once banned United players from talking to the Press after the Levadia Tallinn match in Estonia in the UEFA Cup.

He told his team-mates that he would do the talking and never really grasped why there was a need for more than one player to talk to the local press.

Basically, Parker was not used to living in an area where people talked about football 24/7, 365.

And that the hunger of fans demanded as many players gave their opinions as possible after games.

Having covered other clubs, I have witnessed one player being nominated to talk to the media meaning others don't have the responsibility of relaying views to fans.

It's always been different at Newcastle, something that Parker didn't always grasp.

Like Michael Owen, Parker also didn't always feel the need to talk after the game as captain.

Again, this is not a rant at Parker being a poor player or a bad person.

Far from it, it's quite simply a view that Parker is not captain material because he is so focused on his own unique job for the team.

Towards the end of the 2006/07 season, Roeder was sacked for a run of poor results and a few weeks later Parker left the club.

Parker claimed he never wanted to leave the club and perhaps Big Sam's style of play was a huge factor.

Certainly, lightning struck twice when Parker left West Ham this season under Big Sam and wasn't part of the big vision at Upton Park.

He is now a major part of a Spurs team that have produced some brilliant results this season.

But for me, Parker was never the right fit as skipper at Newcastle United.

What do you think?

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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