Who’s better: Scott Parker or Michael Carrick?


Today’s early kick-off (12.45) between Manchester United and West Ham is an opportunity for United to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points as their closest rivals, Arsenal don’t play until 5.30. It’s also an interesting showcase for two English midfielders, Scott Parker and Michael Carrick, who will do battle in the centre of midfield. There’s more than an arbitrary connection between the two: both have a West Ham connection (Carrick started his career with the Hammers) and both have remained on the fringes of the England team. This gives rise to an interesting question: who’s the better player? Furthermore, why the heck isn’t Parker playing for a bigger team, or at least a team competing for trophies?

Michael Carrick, who has received a great deal of criticism this season by those who don’t deem him ‘United quality’, plays for arguably the biggest side in the country. Scott Parker is regularly praised for his performances at West Ham and has recently made the step-up to International level without looking out of place. That rules out the theory that Scott Parker is made to look better than he is by the ineptitude of those around him. He is, simply put: a good player.

Could today’s game reveal that there is a gulf in class between the two players?

The state of Manchester United’s midfield at the moment is deplorable and it’s something that’s sure to be dealt with during the summer. Michael Carrick in many ways exemplifies the problems that United suffer in that area of the pitch. He’s overrated, he’s costly (United shelled out £18.6m for his services) and though he generally retains the ball pretty well, he has a frustrating tendency to pass side-wards or backwards.

So it’s either crab-wise Carrick, or Anderson, who is forward thinking but loses the ball much too often. Pick your poison United fans.

This isn’t a slight at Carrick’s commitment – I’m sure he gives 100% when he’s on the pitch. But the way Parker plays, with such energy and drive – the way he snaps into every tackle, competes for everything, forces mistakes and leaves his mark on the game – it’s a joy to behold.

I’m not suggesting the United make a move for Parker during the summer – though I would like to see him find a home at a club with the resources to compete for silverware. Today, however, is another reminder that the current state of United’s midfield isn’t good enough. A man playing for a relegation-threatened team should not provide such a threat.

Great odds: United to beat West Ham 2-0 – 8/1

Good odds: Scott Parker to score first – 16/1. Michael Carrick to score anytime – 11/2.

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