'Award will mean little if West Ham go down'

Parker beats Bale and Vidic to Player of the Year award but is still injured for today's vital game against Chelsea
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The Independent Online

Scott Parker was crowned the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year yesterday but suggested the award would be a hollow victory if West Ham United were relegated from the Premier League.

The England midfield player, 30, became his club's first recipient of the award since the late Bobby Moore, in 1964, when he finished top of this season's poll ahead of Gareth Bale and Nemanja Vidic. However, Parker accepted his primary target is helping West Ham climb out of the bottom three before the end of the season. "The main prize definitely is staying up," he said. "Our main aim is to stay in the Premier League and we've got five big, big games left and hopefully we can get the points we need and stay in the league. If we don't do it, the personal accolades along the way will be very, very disappointing."

Parker was recognised for his performances during West Ham's troubled season, with Avram Grant's team in danger of being cut adrift in the relegation battle without their talisman. He will miss today's game at Chelsea, his former club, with an Achilles injury but could return for next week's trip to Manchester City, when he would be looking to continue his fine form this season.

"I'm probably playing the best football of my career – over the last couple of years I feel like I've been playing some good stuff," he said. "It's probably experience, I've stayed away from injuries, I'm playing in the team regularly. You get a bit older, you're a bit more experienced, you learn a lot more."

Parker's award was widely praised, with Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, declaring him a worthy winner. "I remember when we won the treble in 1999, David Ginola got it," Ferguson said. "I have nothing against Ginola at all, but I thought it was an insult to Manchester United. But with Parker it's nice to recognise somebody outside of the celebrity clubs in the Premier League."

Parker's manager, Grant, added: "He's not just a good footballer but a good person and the fact he's only the second West Ham player to win it since Bobby Moore says it all.

"He is a modern player with the good old values that you still have in football. Scotty Parker never speaks about commitment, passion or desire but you see it in every minute of the 90 or 95 minutes that he plays on the pitch and that's what I say to the players all the time."

With Parker ruled out, the focus at Stamford Bridge today will be on other players. Wayne Bridge, the West Ham defender, faces John Terry for the first time since the Chelsea captain was given the England armband back. Terry was stripped of the captaincy after allegations of an affair with Bridge's former partner and the players did not shake hands when they met last, before Manchester City's victory at Chelsea last season.

Like Bridge, Grant is facing his former club. The Israeli gave his support to Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, following uncertainty over his future.

"To judge someone in any position in football in a short time is a big, big mistake because things change very quickly," he said.

Grant lost his job at Chelsea after eight months in charge, despite guiding Roman Abramovich's team to the Champions League final in 2008. "I think Roman wants stability more than any other person," Grant said. "He is taking decisions, it is his way to take decisions but he also needs to think about the team and the circumstances.

"He put a lot of money into this club. Not just about players, look at the facilities. I think in this club he wants more results.

"Now they are more patient than they were before so I think they are learning from their mistakes but it will not be [done] in one day."

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