Fulham

Scott Parker Is the Perfect Foil for Berbatov, Bent, Ruiz and Taarabt at Fulham

SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 27:  Mamadou Hady Barry of South China is tackled by Scott Parker of Tottenhan Hotspur during the Third Place Play-Off match between Tottenham Hotspur and South China at Hong Kong Stadium on July 27, 2013 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 20, 2013

The BBC have confirmed that Fulham have signed Scott Parker from Tottenham Hotspur to a three-year deal.

The former West Ham midfield dynamo has had his options at White Hart Lane severely restricted this summer, given the recruitment of Etienne Capoue and Paulinho in midfield. However, he's fallen into an ideal situation just a short drive southwest.

The Cottagers were crying out for a defensive midfielder who can screen the back line and put in the hard yards, and Martin Jol has signed exactly that with Parker.

"He's a midfielder who works tirelessly for his team and is a fantastic player both on and off the ball," crowed the Dutchman after unveiling his brand new summer acquisition.

He may no longer be the goal threat of his 2010-11 season—in which he scored seven, formed the heartbeat of West Ham's midfield and won the FWA Footballer of the Year Award—but he still has a lot to offer.

From a defensive perspective, Parker works extremely hard and, despite being a little limited physically nowadays, has the nous to play the destructive role Jol wants.

During the 2012-13 season, Parker managed 2.5 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game from 12 starts, according to WhoScored.com, often sitting alongside Mousa Dembele and cleaning up the play.

He rarely ventured forward and developed a stigma for only passing sideways. While those don't sound like the qualities you want in your new purchase, have no doubt that this is the player Fulham needs.

In signing Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent on loan for the season, the Cottagers have given themselves quite the conundrum: How do you fit Taarabt, Bent, Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov onto the same side without compromising the balance of the unit?

Ruiz and Berbatov are not famed for tracking back, while Bent is the epitome of a classic No. 9. Taarabt's work ethic is questionable, yet Jol plans to utilise all four at the same time.

It's a move that will place immense strain on the defensive six, particularly the holding midfield. But with the right players, it could work.

Jol believes he has found the right guys—Derek Boateng and Parker—to anchor a supporting line that will allow the front four to interchange, drift and focus solely on attacking. Steve Sidwell represents an excellent third workhorse option, but his inability to control the urge to bomb forward could jeopardise his place on the team.

If Berbatov, Ruiz and Taarabt can drift freely across an advanced midfield line in a 4-2-3-1 behind Bent up front, defences won't know which way to look.

It's an incredibly crafty setup, but one that would have fallen flat on its face without the appropriate personnel in defensive midfield. Bent was on the bench against Sunderland, and it was either too early for the striker or telling of Jol's belief in the balance of the squad.

Fulham fans could be in for an exciting ride this season. While Jol shapes a side full of flair, wizardry, creativity and goals, Parker will be happy to sit back and guard the fort.

 

 

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