Parker: ‘Complete flop’ who proved blowing smoke up English manager arses is irresponsible hot air

Club Brugge head coach Scott Parker Credit: Alamy
Club Brugge head coach Scott Parker Credit: Alamy

Less than four weeks after it was said in a national paper that he was in the England manager mix, Scott Parker was sacked for the second time this season.


The tactical instructions and coaching philosophy may have been lost in translation but the general sentiment certainly was not. ‘Scott Parker is niet langer hoofdcoach van Club Brugge,’ tweeted the Belgian club’s official account earlier this week. On the same day, Het Laatste Nieuws journalist Niels Poissonier wrote a condemnatory missive on ‘die een complete flop’. Duolingo was required in neither instance.

And so the bruising Brugge excursion was aborted after 67 days, making it the longest managerial reign of Parker’s season. The 42-year-old’s three weeks in charge of Premier League side Bournemouth was no preparation for the expectation which consumed him at Belgium’s second-biggest club.

Parker jumped while being pushed as captain of a ship he felt could not be prevented from sinking to the Championship in August, then landed on his feet in the Champions League by December.

For that opportunity to be snatched away in this of all weeks is fitting. Parker has taken a four-month hiatus – his longest break from football in his time as a professional – yet still been dismissed from another post before Bournemouth have directly confronted their Anfield demons. The Cherries hope to avenge the 9-0 defeat Liverpool inflicted upon them in the summer when they host the Reds on Saturday and as much as Parker may feel his stance on their insufficient squad improvement has been vindicated by their position at the foot of a snowy league table, his own immediate and long-term prospects are perhaps even more precarious than that of his former side.

A dozen games in Belgium delivered a couple of wins and clean sheets but also a series of damaging draws and crushing defeats. Club Brugge were fourth, 12 points from runaway leaders Genk with a three-point cushion to Gent when Parker arrived. That gap to the top is now 23 points and both Gent and Standard Liege have closed to within a point of the reigning Jupiler League champions, who still barely occupy the division’s final championship play-off and thus European qualification place.

READ MORERanking all 32(!) Premier League managers from the season so far

In a table of results since Parker took the job, Club Brugge are 11th of 18 teams and have more victories than just two sides: relegation battlers Eupen and Oostende, the latter of whom beat the blue-black black and blue 3-0 in the game immediately before what will be Club Brugge’s final Champions League match for some time.

Carl Hoefkens masterminded European victories over Bayer Leverkusen, Porto and Atletico Madrid before being sacked for poor form; Parker presided over a two-legged thrashing by Benfica which secured his fate.

The deployment of winger Tajon Buchanan as an 8 and right-sided forward Kamal Sowah at wing-back in Lisbon during the second leg were the last increasingly desperate rolls of the dice from Parker, whose personal aggregate record from 17 games as a manager this season is 17-39.

The Club Brugge appointment was one the manager himself expressed surprise at, admitting the club’s approach came “out of the blue” and at a time he “had no interest in football”. Those nine weeks in charge in Belgium are unlikely to have rekindled much positive feeling and there is immense sympathy for a man who moved his wife and youngest child over to Bruges in a show of dedication to a long-term project.

But the wider media must acknowledge their part in his demise. Parker needs more than for Joe Cole to praise his “brave and bold” decision to take on a job abroad that was clearly beyond his station. “You’re rooting for him, he’s an Englishman, he’s a great lad Scott,” said the BT Sport pundit after the 5-1 Benfica humbling, listing his main virtues as a coach. Less than four weeks before Parker was sacked, Jason Burt wrote in the Daily Telegraph that he ‘could be in the mix to be a future England manager’ and ‘how he fares with Brugge will be closely watched by Premier League clubs but also the Football Association’. The Tottenham links are fitful but never far.

Blowing smoke up the arse of Scott Parker has resulted in a whole lot of hot air hanging heavy over a promising coach who has had his career at least temporarily derailed. The perennial rush to crown a young English managerial hope results in considerably more casualties than it does success stories. It is a maddening exercise in irresponsible glorification but none of those who placed Parker on that lofty pedestal will feel regret or guilt at him being ‘die een complete flop’; they will be busy identifying the next coach to hitch their unhelpful bandwagon to.

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