Quite often in professional football, paths collide that either create a liking or discomfort between two people – or perhaps a simple instance of what might have been.
It’s been over 15 years since Jose Mourinho worked with Scott Parker during his first stint as Chelsea boss, in a season that will go down in history from start to finish.
From the famous “Special One” announcement on his first day in charge to a record 95, the Portuguese’s introduction to English football was brilliantly eventful, but Parker, ranked as one of England’s top midfielders at the time, was one of which simply fell by the wayside.
Jose Mourinho worked with Scott Parker in his first season as Chelsea boss 15 years ago
But the midfielder (left) appeared only a few times in what was a frustrating season for him
PARKER’S FORGETTABLE SEASON UNDER MOURINHO
- Appearances: 11
- Starts: 7
- Goals: 0
- Assists: 0
- Bookings: 1
- Trophies won: League Cup, Premier League
Granted, the midfielder was signed by Mourinho’s predecessor Claudio Ranieri for £ 10m in January 2004, five months before the break on the bridge.
However, at age 24, Parker entered the early years of his career after joining Charlton, where he performed in a deep role under Alan Curbishley and made his England debut in November 2003.
But when Ranieri was replaced by Mourinho, Parker saw that his chances for the first team were limited to a handful of chances – and even then his fitness failed him.
Parker was under no illusions – with Claude Makelele, one of the most effective defensive midfielders in Europe, and Tiago, who signed to play by his side this summer, the England international was a substitute. A backup. A reserve.
He started only once in the Blues’ first ten league games – a 4-0 win over Blackburn – prior to a few Champions League games when Chelsea led the group.
Mourinho, who possessed a range of talents, was well aware of Parker’s lingering frustration as he stayed on the sidelines. He said: “I can accept that the player is not happy if he is not playing … Parker is a top professional and is doing absolutely fantastic every day. ‘
Great things were expected of Parker after his £ 10 million signing, but things didn’t work out
But in mid-December, as a substitute, a disaster struck Norwich when Parker broke his foot. Ten weeks later, as he neared the end of his rehabilitation, he broke his foot again.
And that was just that – not just for the season, but for Parker’s Chelsea career as well. He stopped playing for the club as the Blues won the League Cup and Premier League despite taking a medal as a league winner and taking part in the title celebrations.
But Parker wasn’t interested in helping anyone. In the summer of 2005 the club and the players split pretty happily and he moved to Newcastle for £ 6.5m.
Shortly after moving north, Parker said, “I didn’t play a lot there and when I did, especially under Mourinho, I thought I did well. But it shouldn’t be.
The England international was a regular on the bench when Chelsea stormed to the title (right)
“For one reason or another, the manager didn’t like me.”
Both of them carried on with their careers, and Parker had a splendid end to his career moving from one London club to another while Mourinho won a spate of trophies across Europe.
Shortly after taking over as Fulham’s caretaker boss in 2019, Parker spoke admirably of Mourinho’s leadership attributes: ‘[He’s] Very honest, inconsiderate at times, surely you must have that about you. He had the ability to make you feel ten feet tall or feel like you did the worst in the world.
In this sense there was no middle ground. Its communicating with people at this time – people are feeling a million dollars and are killing the right people. Obviously, everything else says a lot about him, a winner. ‘
The couple remains amicable because they have competed against each other in recent years (picture 2014).
Now the couple will clash again in a hastily arranged Premier League encounter.
A game originally scheduled for December 30th but postponed due to a Covid outbreak in Fulham. It has been dramatically incorporated into this week’s Premier League games, much to the Fulham boss’s annoyance.
The pair struggled to survive in the relegation zone, with Mourinho having title aspirations at the other end of the table, and failed to score higher contrast goals this season.
But don’t figure out Fulham at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow night – they drew Liverpool last month and maybe should have gotten away with all three.
They have also lost only once in their last six league games – to Man City – with Parker’s side, viewed by some (Jamie Carragher) as a “dead certainty” of the fall, showing the much-needed spirit in this hectic part of the game Season.
Mourinho (L) and Parker (R) will cross again on Wednesday, but this time on the contact line
For Parker, the encounter with Mourinho remains a tempting test of his leadership skills: “It only felt like yesterday when I was playing under Jose, and now I’ll be with him in the technical field, albeit a few years under him in this job too his experience is far superior.
“It’s an opportunity I’m looking forward to and looking forward to and I can’t wait to meet him again and get my team to hold their own against a very good opponent.”
The mutual respect is clearly still there. Preference or discomfort? Not this time either. That said, by kick-off, both of them will be looking for whatever they can on the contact line.