Talking football … with Paul Parker – 9th March 2022

Following a tough loss to their local rivals, we caught up with former Manchester United and England ace Paul Parker to discuss what’s going on at his former club. Paul talked about how Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be proud of his tenure at Manchester United despite it being a turbulent time and why Southhampton’s Tino Livramento would be a good replacement. He also opened up about Marcus Rashford’s situation at the club, what should be next for Cristiano Ronaldo and how both Erik Ten Hag and Ralph Hasenhüttl fits into the soon to be vacant managerial position at the club.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has reportedly been placed on the transfer list by Man Utd. Do you think that’s a correct decision? Did Wan-Bissaka reach his peak? 

“I was a big fan of his when he was at Crystal Palace, but I was looking at him as a defender and I just thought he was fantastic. When he did go forward at Palace, he was okay, because he used to play as a Winger.”

“But what the likes of Crystal Palace, then under Roy Hudgson, wanted from a fullback, compared to Manchester United were different.” 

“In that sense, Manchester United took him on as a defender. They like what he did defending, and then they tried to throw him into another role as fullback and he isn’t equipped to do that.”

“It’s just a shame that his tenure at Manchester United has been in a very, very unstable time for him. So he hasn’t been able to build any confidence or pattern of play and just get close to anything like a structure in his game, playing with someone in front of him on a regular basis. Like me when I played, I had Andrei Kanchelskis in front of me. He never had that opportunity.”

“So if it is that way (that he’s transfer listed), it’s a shame. But the bonus for him is that he has gone and done it. He has been there and he has done it, so experience-wise, he’ll be a better person after being there, as long as he keeps his head right, and not take it as a negative. Because the negative could have been if he had turned it down, saying he was content playing for Crystal Palace”

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His replacement, as per reports, could be Southampton’s Tino Livramento. Good choice?

“He’s been very very good for Southampton. Really, really good. He’s another player that has come from Chelsea. They have let an array of fullbacks go. Incredible.” 

“But he looks really solid. He’s steady. He’s not the flamboyant wingback that everyone wants to shout about, fluff up and make fantastic.He’s happy to defend as well. He’s very very comfortable on the ball. When he goes forward he runs off the ball and gets into areas without the ball in the box, so yeah for me, he suits. If you talk about a Ralf Rangnick way of playing, he suits that. Because he is very athletic in what he does. He’s very quick and comfortable as a natural runner across the grass. He eases across the grass very quickly and smoothly.”

“I can see that. But again, we’re talking about the media. You don’t know what to believe. There’s a lot of good fullbacks out there. There’s a good fullback at Middleborough, there’s a good fullback at Nottingham Forest, on loan from Middleborough, there’s right backs everywhere.”

 

Marcus Rashford is reportedly looking to leave the club. Would it be the right move for him to move on?

“He needs to go and look in the mirror, and the face in the mirror will say ‘well you haven’t played well for eighteen months, do you really deserve to play?’. ‘Don’t you really think you should get your head right first – all that stuff you got in your head, get rid of it’”

“There is a reason for why he got to where he is, why all these people want him to do things, and that’s playing football and playing well for his local team. That took him to play regularly and took him to represent his country on a regular basis. That’s what he should be looking for. 

“And going somewhere else, because he thinks he should be playing, when he’s not good enough to play, but he is kidding himself that he is, it’s going to take him even further back and put him under even more pressure. Because people might start calling him a quitter.”

 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club is in ‘serious doubt’. What do you think Manchester United should look to do about him? Is there anyone that would be willing to pay for his transfer and his wages at this stage? 

“I can’t say there is. There’s no one who’s got the money.” 

“People talk about (Kylian) Mbappe and you look at the money he’s costing but the return on investment there, the strength is, his age.”

“Ronaldo, there’s no return on investment.”

“You’re looking at selling shirts. I think if you’re another club, you’re gonna turn around and say, ‘no he hasn’t done that well at Manchester United and him coming here, is he going to sell as many shirts as people are going to be sceptical’.”

“So, there’s not a club in the UK that could take him, could afford him.”

“You look to Spain, you’re gonna say would he want to go to another club in Spain because he’s played for Real Madrid.”

“You look at Italy and Juve were quite happy to let him go.”

“You have to say, if he’s gonna go somewhere, if he really wants to prove a point, he’s gonna have to take a massive, massive drop.”

“When we talk about Ronaldo, everyone talks about how fit he looks and what he is, yeah I’m not doubting that. But still, his movement, as a 37 year old, compared to someone who’s 30, or 25, is completely different.”

“If he’s up against another 37 year old, he’d wipe the floor with them. But it just doesn’t work that way.”

“It’s about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. I look at (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, he knew it, he knew how to go out and play. He knew he was in great shape for his age but he knew there’s things that don’t matter in the level and quality of a player. He knew he couldn’t match him in certain things and he played to his strengths.”

“And that’s the difference, really. As much as Ronaldo’s tries, he tries to shift the ball and go past people, people are taking the ball off his toes too often. And in his frustration, he’s been throwing himself to the floor, looking for fouls every time he’s tackled and the referees are not having it.”

“So, I think we have to look at it, United can’t be going forward with Ronaldo in the team. It can’t be. As much as he’s loved and adored for what he’d done before, and there is that adage, it must be the same in every country – ‘sometimes you should never go back’. You lay everything to rest.”

 

Erik Ten Hag seems to be on a charm offensive to get the edge over Pochettino for the Manchester United job. Could he be the right option? Southampton’s Ralph Hassenhutl has also been added to the shortlist. What about him?

“Two Ralphs in a row, that’ll be interesting. That’s never happened before in English football.”

“I like what he (Hassenhutl) has done. I like the team spirit he’s built. After being a manager and almost with the same players, you’ve lost two games, 9-0 and you come back strong on two occasions.”

“First and foremost, he’s loved and trusted by the fans and his board trusted that he was gonna make amends and he’s done that on two occasions.”

“The Southampton job has been very very difficult. It’s been a difficult job and over the years it’s been harder and harder and he’s really taken it on. He knows the Premier League. When you talk about a manager who can instil discipline, he’ll get discipline because he’s scary, he’s a big big man. He’s got the body shape of a basketball player with a little bit more muscle, you wouldn’t mess with him. He’s tough in what he does, you can see it on the touchline.” 

“I like that about new age management now, I like the way they are on the touchline. It’s not about screaming and shouting. It’s about organisation. It’s a completely different way from what managers were on the touchline during my day where it was about how many swear words they could get out inside 30 seconds. Not anymore, it’s changed. They’re cultured now.”

“He stands on the edge of the box. I like him. And he’s got an added bonus that he knows the league.”

“You talk about (Erik Ten Hag and) Ajax and I like what he’s done. But Ajax is a different way of managing compared to Manchester United because it’s not always about the way of Ajax.” 

“Manchester United fans will talk about all the young players coming through at the moment; Manchester United fans have to look to win trophies. It’s gotta be about winning trophies. You start winning trophies, then you start assessing what you’ve got below and bring them into a progressive team.”

“At the moment, Man Utd is not progressive. It’s got some toxic players who are playing and you don’t want your young players to be mixing with them. So you wonder, if he (Ten Hag) is the right person, is he gonna get the help he needs to survive.”

“While the Southampton manager, knows the league and knows how to survive in the league and he’s been working with better players as well, from what he’s dealt with at Southampton.”

“If he does leave Southampton, he leaves Southampton in good shape because you just wonder how Southampton can go on from where they are at the moment because they’re not producing as many players as they used to. They need to be in the marketplace to get the right people in. That’s why we talked about the full-back from Southampton. Kyle Walker-Peters, you look at him as well.”

“You look at the weaknesses when they sign a player. Armstrong from Blackburn. He scored a lot of goals in the Championship. The gap between scoring goals in the Championship and the Premier League is massive and we’ve seen that so many times.”

 


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2022-03-09
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