Ell/Nikki, Lady Gaga and Scott Parker are an unusual combination. But they have generated some surprises of late. The Azerbaijani singing duo won the Eurovision Song Contest, the Poker Face of Pop topped Oprah Winfrey in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, and last week West Ham's midfield maestro picked up his Football Writers Player of the Year award at a gala event just before the Irons went down the EPL relegation tap door. I confess: I didn't see the Parker pick coming. I was sure it was going to be Carlos Tevez.
AP Photo/Kirsty WigglesworthCarlos Tevez has said he needs a change of scenery, and if he leaves, City will have big boots to fill.
Parker's a fine player who gave his all for the Hammers this season in an ultimately futile cause. He also demonstrated during the campaign that he has the talent and temperament to handle international soccer, which bodes well for England in at least the near future. But how can a player on the EPL's worst team (the points tally doesn't lie) be the Player of the Year?
That makes about as much sense as the Football Association scheduling EPL games on the same day as the FA Cup final (or abstaining from the upcoming FIFA presidency vote). It seems not even the FA believe in the magic of the cup anymore. But the magic of the man who raised the trophy at Wembley on Saturday cannot be denied.
Tevez's tempestuous time at Eastlands (and indeed across both halves of football Manchester over the years) has made him a polarizing figure to say the least, but for all the millions of dollars spent on the City squad over the past couple of seasons, the best value for money has been the man from Argentina.
He sits atop the EPL goal charts (alongside another polarizing resident of Manchester, Dimitar Berbatov) with 21 goals to his credit. And the brace he scored against Stoke City on Tuesday night is a capsule of his remarkable skill: the first, a quick one-two outside the penalty area, a slalom run around two defenders and a right-foot rifle into the net; the second, one of the free kick strikes of the season.
It's no wonder Nigel de Jong, a man not known for his subtlety, declared that Tevez was irreplaceable this week. No one is irreplaceable; although Ashton Kutcher will need all the help he can get replacing Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men." But it should be noted that the second-highest scorers in the EPL for City this season were Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli with six apiece. Even when you've got bottomless pockets, that's a big gap to fill should Tevez head to Inter Milan or Real Madrid in the offseason, as is being speculated.
Roberto Mancini claims his captain will stay, but Tevez has told Argentinian radio that he is seeking a move away from the club as he needs "a change of scene."
Who knows how this saga will end, but wherever Tevez ends up next season, he will probably be well rested. Apparently, like the sainted Football Writers Association, Argentina boss Sergio Batista is going to snub El Apache as well for this summer's Copa America.
Reportedly, Batista wants Lionel Messi to be his No. 9 for the tournament, partnered by Gonzalo Higuain. Back in March at the press conference following the U.S.-Argentina game at New Meadowlands, Batista seemed like a pretty relaxed cat, until the topic of the spurned Tevez came up. Faster than you can say "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," the coach dismissed the question as irrelevant to that night's game and moved on to the next raised hand.
More than a little intimidated, I didn't raise mine to ask Batista what he thought of Tevez's chances of being the Footballer of the Year in England. But I think I know the answer. Which is the same as the English scribes gave -- a thumbs down.
No doubt, Tevez isn't too down about it. Parker is down, and two other teams with inspirational figures could join him in the relegation cellar Sunday as well. Is it too late to vote for Charlie Adam or Charles N'Zogbia?