West Ham 2 Portsmouth 0: Zola knows cost of living without priceless Scott Parker

How uncomplicated Scott Parker’s life was as a 13-year-old when all he had to do was play keepy-uppy in a McDonald’s advert during the 1994 World Cup.

The midfielder is playing keepy-uppy again, driving West Ham out of the relegation places with a display of poise and precision that was far too beguiling for Portsmouth, following an equally potent display against Chelsea six days earlier.

No longer an unknown teenager, however, this time everybody knows Parker’s name. Worse still, they think they know the price which would lure him away from Upton Park when football’s January sales open for business at the weekend.

Scott Parker tries to skip round Aruna Dindane

Magnificent: Parker (right) excelled against Portsmouth as West Ham registered a much needed victory

Therein lies the dilemma that faces Parker and West Ham as they journey around the North Circular to face Tottenham on Monday lunchtime.

If Parker has another stormer against a club that is one of the suitors for his services, Gianfranco Zola will surely find happy shoppers prepared to camp outside his door in a bid to beat the rush to sign the 29-year-old.

If he doesn’t, the likelihood is that West Ham will be beaten at White Hart Lane and slip back towards the trapdoor that leads to the Championship and an uncertain future.

Accepting a £10million cheque next month would ease the financial concerns in east London, but if that means foregoing the £60m dished out to next season’s Premier League clubs, it would be the falsest of economies.

Scott Parker aged 14 appearing in a McDonalds advert

Keepy-uppy: Parker starred in a McDonalds advert in 1994

Parker was magnificent against Portsmouth, swooping time and again on to loose balls to establish pattern and order whenever chaos threatened to envelop the search for a first league win in a month.

Zola said: ‘Scott is such a good player to have in the team because he interacts with everybody else on the same level. He puts a lot of passion, a lot of desire and thought into his play. He has everything.

'Is it good for him to be in form prior to the transfer window? It’s OK. I will take the risk right now. He is at his best, so I’m not worried about that. Also, I know he is very concerned about what he is doing here. I hope he keeps playing as long as possible like this.’

West Ham's Radoslav Kovac

Kindred spirit: Radoslav Kovac has struck up a dynamic partnership with Parker

In fellow midfielder Radoslav Kovac, Parker has discovered a kindred spirit, while outside him his young apprentice Jack Collison is benefiting from the midfield platform that has been established.

If only Zola had better attacking cover for the injured Carlton Cole than the ineffective Guillermo Franco, the West Ham midfield would surely inspire more comfortable victories than this one.

In spite of their superiority, a first-half penalty from Alessandro Diamanti was all that separated the sides until Kovac headed in Luis Jimenez’s exquisite free-kick a minute from time.

Parker said: ‘In the second half Portsmouth put us under pressure but we held out and nicked one at the end. Four weeks ago, that wouldn’t have been the case.

‘We’ve picked up a few good results and it’s going well on a personal level. I’ve hit a bit of good form and feel quite strong.’

Portsmouth’s fans would love to be in the position where the only question mark surrounding their team was the possible outgoings through the transfer window. With four players heading to the Africa Cup of Nations, they remain adrift at the foot of the table.

Kevin-Prince Boateng said: ‘We have to keep the switch on and not turn it off like we did today. We’re bottom and we have to get a result every weekend.’


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