‘A Sit Down with Paul Parker’ – 4th November 2021

Ahead of the Manchester derby on Saturday, BonusCodeBets caught up with ex-United defender, Paul Parker. The former right-back shared his thoughts on Harry Maguire not being captain material, United needing to get rid of Paul Pogba and Aubameyang’s lack of leadership.

Paul Parker Exclusive: The Manchester United defence is really poor

“Manchester United’s defensive woes has to be down to the players and not the manager. When you are defending, you should be able to do your job and defend properly, as a team. Their back four just don’t do it, and individually they struggle one against one, except for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The rest of them are incredibly poor. 

“Looking at the second goal against Atalanta, how many goals are scored because Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are the last men and get caught out of position?! Against Atalanta, Maguire was more content with sticking his arm up in the air every time they got in behind, rather than defending first and then asking the question. I’m not sure what it is about Manchester United right now, but it seems as though they’d prefer to throw their arms up rather than do their jobs properly! That is a huge concern.

“For me, when that second goal was scored, I turned around straight away and said it wasn’t offside. I could see clearly; I have no idea why it took so long for them to check. How many times was their striker caught offside? That should have been the hint for the defenders to either hold a good line, or argue with an assistant on the touchline and someone in VAR. They should have said ‘I’m going to get up against this fella [the Atalanta striker] rather than hope for an offside, unless it’s blatantly obvious. They just didn’t do that until they went 2-1 down, and it could have been more to be honest.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Harry Maguire is not as good as he’s made out to be

“The amount of money that Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire was far too much. Manchester United wanted to buy him, made a big song and dance about the fee and then they followed through and actually paid it. 

“He did okay during the Euros, but you have to remember the quality of players he was up against in the Euros, it was far less compared to the Premier League. People say he had a great summer for England but his only real test was in the final against Italy, and he was found wanting against them positionally. He was caught out a few times then, as he is in the Premier League, as he was against Leicester. He’s one of those players that, as that Leicester fixture showed, has to be 100% physically, otherwise he isn’t right in the head. That’s why he was so bad in that game. I’m just wondering if he pushed to play in that game because it was his old club and he wanted to play in front of the fans there as a Manchester United player.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Harry Maguire should not be Manchester United captain

“Manchester United gave Harry Maguire the captain’s armband too early. It surprised a lot of people; it didn’t make any sense and it hasn’t been a good fit from day one.

“With captains, it isn’t about who has the biggest transfer fee or who’s the best player. There’s much more to it than that. He isn’t the right player to be a captain of Manchester United at this moment in time and he has a lot in his game that needs rectifying. 

“Great Premier League winning teams have well-known back fours and goalkeepers, but United haven’t got a great back four, or midfield right now. They have got a decent front line which suggests that the side is struggling in the other two thirds of the pitch and will struggle to make it into the Champions League next season.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Ronaldo has stunted United’s development but has saved Ole’s job

“Ole Gunnar Solskjær would have been sacked by now without Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals.

“On the other hand, look at how Manchester United finished off last season, and look at Edinson Cavani, and how the team was playing and progressing forward. Mason Greenwood scored and assisted a few goals, and Cavani’s movement made a huge difference – it was evolving into something great. 

“They re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo off the back of that, because they were progressing as a team but after that, you’re looking for Manchester United to buy someone young, or promote a youth team player, to watch, learn and build towards that level. However, Ronaldo coming in curtailed that.”

“Ronaldo’s goals have made a difference, but the general play of the team hasn’t improved. However, goals dig you out of bad situations. His first goal against Atalanta was brilliant improvisation by Bruno Fernandes, it was great play. The second goal was instinctive, he’s managed to do something that not many players can do, or would even think about doing. He got Manchester United out of jail, but more importantly, he bailed himself out as he hardly touched the ball in the second half. The game was bypassing him and Marcus Rashford and no-one even noticed when Marcus Rashford went behind the goal and walked off the pitch.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: It’s best for all parties if Paul Pogba moves on

“We can’t just blame Paul Pogba for his bad performances, the whole team are to blame. It’s easy to blame the player because it’s up to him to motivate himself and do the best for himself and his teammates. Pogba hasn’t been playing fantastically for quite a while, but it hasn’t helped that having him in the team is like putting a square peg in a round hole.

“People look at how Pogba plays for his country and compare that to how he plays for his club. There’s a massive gap between the two that somehow hasn’t been filled. Why can’t they get the same out of him, as France manage to? It’s difficult to work out who Manchester United should play alongside him.

“There are so many things it can be attributed to, but you look at his situation with his contract running out of time and you have accept it and let him go. They can’t just pay him what he wants and surely they wouldn’t be willing to go through this mental torture every single time he has a half-decent game hoping that he could do it again.

“He’s 100% consistent for his country and he’s the focal point of the French national side, but he can’t be the same focal point for his club, so there’s something wrong somewhere. Ultimately it falls somewhere between the management and the player. It’s a two-way street and something isn’t quite right. You can talk about systems, but the players make those systems. You also want them to be individuals, who can sometimes find a way when the midfield is blocked, and you wonder sometimes about his state of mind and question if he’s totally frustrated with what’s happened at Manchester United? 

“For Manchester United as a football club and for the supporters, he needs to say exactly what his intentions are, and then everyone can move on. Manchester United are going to lose money, because he won’t go for a transfer fee unless he re-signs, but that’s not necessarily a positive thing. United certainly shouldn’t be chasing it. They should see what pops up in January for him in the summer. The club haven’t seen anything from his agent or spoken about it and he’s letting the clock run down until January so that he can speak to other clubs.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Sancho is ready for the Premier League, Ole needs to play him

“If Manchester United publicly chased Sancho for 18 months, and then buy him for £70 million, they simply have to get him playing. He’s an Englishman, he knows football in England and there’s no excuse for him. For anyone to come out and say he needs time to adjust to the Premier League is rubbish. It’s football. He’s English and he understands it. He went from an English side to go to Germany. His game, and everything about him, would have improved by going out there. 

“Unless Jadon is doing something in training that the manager doesn’t like, or that he’s got to play others ahead of him, if you’re the person that’s paid that £70 million, you’d be asking why they’ve paid all that money for him, alongside his wages which will be over £100,000 a week. Are they going to give him the opportunity to earn some money? He has to play more than one game so he can get a run in the team and feel a part of it. All it’s doing is causing massive unrest within the club, and definitely with him.”

 Paul Parker Exclusive: West Ham have a better midfield than Manchester United so why would Declan Rice move?

“If we’re going on form and consistency, Declan Rice is the best midfield player in the league. We can’t label him with a position because he plays like a central midfield player from the past as he’s always happy to run from box to box and he’s happy to play every single game. 

“Manchester United should go for him, but they have to get the right players around him and at this moment in time, West Ham United have a better midfield than Manchester United. 

“Why would he leave something that’s working really well to go and jump into something that isn’t right? If I’m Declan rice, I’d turn around and ask who they’re going to sign to play with me because he’d look at [Bruno] Fernandes and say ‘yeah, who else?’ 

“He’s a very sought-after player and he’ll have to choose his club wisely. If he’s fit, he’ll want to play and he’s not a player you can stop and start. David Moyes left him out the other day against Man City completely because if he was on the bench, he could have been pushed into playing and Moyes might have felt that he needed to bring him on. But he’s one of those old-fashioned players who will play 90 minutes on a Saturday, and then 90 minutes on the Tuesday and again on Saturday.

“I always say footballers can do that because it’s part and parcel of being a footballer for a job. You’re doing something you’re supposed to love, and you’re being well paid for it. So, if there’s 38 Premier League games and you’re fit, you can play every single. Fatigue is part of human nature so it’s about how you push yourself and that’s what you train for. 

“Declan Rice has to choose the right club that will take him to another level of playing regular Champions League football because that’s what he’d want.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Aubameyang is not captain material and has let Arsenal down

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struggled for the last 18 months at Borussia Dortmund with his bad boy behaviour and he’s brought a bit of that to Arsenal. Since they signed him, he’s been very inconsistent. They gave him the armband to pacify him. But the difference is, he’s not a leader of men and he got the armband maybe because of how much he cost, how much they’re paying him and just try and keep him sweet but he’s definitely not a leader of men. 

“He’s not captain material but when you score the odd goal, people will go with it. Emile Smith-Rowe has been the revelation and Bukayo Saka has done okay but he hasn’t he hasn’t got the presence of Smith-Rowe. 

“It’s sheer embarrassment that they rely on a young boy grabbing a ball in deep areas and conducting how they play all over the park.

“He [Smith-Rowe] is another midfield player, who wouldn’t be satisfied being called a holding player or central attacking player or anything like that. He wants to be everywhere and all over the park with the ball at his feet. He wants to make runs off the ball to go and score goals or getting back to defend if need be.”

Paul Parker Exclusive: Manchester United are taking a risk by relying on Ronaldo and Cavani this season

“I do wonder whether United have made a mistake in just having Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani upfront this season. They’re both getting on a bit, but Ronaldo still wants to play as many games as possible because he still wants to score as many goals as possible. We’ve already seen that he’s still popping up late on and scoring winners when it matters. Cavani is the same, he’s one of those players who just wants to play games. 

“United are going to get more from Cavani in general play than they will from Ronaldo, and he’ll become a real strength if United have control of a game. Whereas, if you’ve got your back to the wall, Ronaldo is the one who can make something out of nothing, like he did with that second goal against Atalanta.

“But they need a young centre forward, someone who can take the reins maybe in 12 months’ time as they need to start building in that direction because of Ronaldo and Cavani’s ages. In football, age is a growing concern but there’s still people running two three marathons a week at the age of 50! 

“United can surely get at least 30 games out of Ronaldo and Cavani. They know how to conduct themselves professionally. Or maybe what they should do is ask other players to help out as well, because there’s a few other players at United who aren’t doing their job right now.”


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