Paul Parker gives his verdict on Man Utd transfer activity and the PL break

Double winning full-back with Man Utd and a former England international, Paul Parker, sat down with the BonusCodeBets team to discuss the Premier League break, the transfer window and more. Here’s what he had to say.

The Premier League finally had its first winter break – players got some rest (in Dubai) midway into the season. Do you think this break was needed in the league? How can players make the most out of such a break?

“Because of when I played, the amount of games we played, we looked forward to playing games, because the more you played it meant that you were in a club that was reasonably successful.”

“Sometimes an engine runs better when its hot rather than when its dying from cold.”

“When you look at the amount of time and when you’re looking at what the players have gone and done, then you say to yourself – was it really needed? A lot of clubs had games called off because a lot of them used Covid to cover themselves with not playing games with injuries. A lot of teams, that had injuries to key players, they got games called off. They used a loophole.”

“There’s a reason why our league is the most competitive top level league in Europe – the demands of it. Players come from all over the world, with the right mentality, to test themselves.”

“If it means playing games over the Christmas period, they know that when they sign for their club. They are willing to accept that. They haven’t signed for someone to be offered rest. If it bothered them, they wouldn’t have come. They’ve come here for a reason, like managers come for a reason.”

“We’ve had a few managers who’ve come and tried to change our game and get rid of our cup competitions. But there’s a reason. It’s competitive because it’s over a length of time.”

“Our English league, our top division league is a marathon. That’s the way it should be treated. It’s not a sprint. It’s not playing 18 games a season spread over 40 weeks.”

“If you’re a top level club and playing more than 45 games a season, it means you’re being reasonably successful.”

“Managers at the moment seem to keep want to talk about rest. I’m old school and I think that, doesn’t matter whatever you do, no one’s a hundred percent at anything. People don’t turn up or work, going to warehouse to work on a line and are a hundred percent – some have a sniff, some have a cough, some have a bad back but they go in there and push through it, do the job, go home, rest and start again.”

“I just believe it is unnecessary, to call it what it is, when other players are going out to play in the CONCACAF, they’re going out to play in South America and some are playing in the AFCON. So certain players have had a ‘rest’.”

“Dubai, a six-and-a-half, seven hour flight from the UK, that’s 14 hours in the air and when you go to Dubai, you’re not gonna spend most of the time in your bed. I don’t understand what it’s all about. I just think something’s being used to fill in spaces.”

“In my opinion, the most competitive league in the world, the Championship – those players are not having a rest, they’ve lost key players but they’re carrying on playing, without those key players. They’re not moaning about it or certain areas of the media don’t want to write about them and below as well.”

“The First Division and the Second Division, they’re playing over 40 games a season plus their own cup competition, the League Cup and everything else.”

“The people earning the most money in English football are the people who are being pampered. People who want to play less hours earn all that big money, while the people doing all the digging, the spade work, are the ones who get less money.”

“There has become this class distinction in English football which is a disgrace.”

No high profile incomings but a couple of players, namely Amad Diallo and Donny van de Beek, going out on loan. What grade would you give to Man Utd’s transfer business in January, compared to their competition?

“I have to look at the fans and you have to say they are going to be disappointed.”

“Tottenham, have they done anything exciting, no, they’ve added two Italian players. Arsenal have weakened in certain ways.” 

“West Ham haven’t strengthened, they greatly needed to go out and do something, they haven’t done it. That’s gonna cause thunderstorms. That’s gonna cause big problems at West Ham now, without a doubt.

“That could cause protests and everything because everyone knew exactly what they needed and they haven’t done anything.” 

“I’m sure David Moyes is very unhappy cause he saw himself having his best ever season as a Premier League manager and I don’t think he’s got what he’s wanted. He’s an ambitious manager who really wants the opportunity to win a trophy to go and do something different.”

“You look at Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham, and at the moment, the fourth spot is quite open cause no one, when you look on paper, has done anything significant.”

“Man Utd have lost players, but I think they’re players who needed to go. Van de Beek, needed to go. He needs the opportunity to prove himself and I really hope it works out at Everton. He goes there and proves people wrong. He deserves that and only he can make that happen, by going there and proving a point.”

“I don’t think Everton’s the right club at the moment because it wasn’t right under the previous two managers.”

“They’ve got an inexperienced manager now, to go and try and do that, with very much the same clutch of players, which the previous two (managers) couldn’t get going. So I don’t know how he’s gonna do that job.”

“Has he (Ralf Rangnick) come to try and settle everything down, until the right person is installed? If he’s gonna be the person, the director of football, that means he’s got a say and a general idea of the players who’ll come to United.”

“I’m waiting to see if Man Utd go on sale of the century, in the summer. They’ve got to go out and have a massive change.”

“If they’re going to do that, they’ll have to do it very early. So themselves and the new coach really have the time to get everything going. Then they might appease the main fan base of Man Utd who know what Man Utd were before and how they’ve done things.”

“Under Sir Alex (Ferguson), it wasn’t all last minute shopping. If you go last minute shopping to look smart, you’re gonna end up with an oversized suit, cause you wouldn’t have enough time to fit it to size. You’ll have to wear it as it is.”

“And that’s what Man Utd have been doing for so many years, trying to catch up. Once you’ve led it out, you’re never gonna get back in shape for the rest of the time. United haven’t been in good shape since 2013.”

“United have put themselves in the limelight now and will be judged by every game about what’s going to happen at the end of the season.”

“I look at maybe the two signings that Tottenham have got, Conte would know about them well, if not at club level then at international level. Conte is really a modern day manager who wins things. He doesn’t tell people he wins things, everybody knows he does. Not like the other fellow (referring to Jose Mourinho) who was manager of Spurs. With Conte, you cannot rule out that fourth spot for Tottenham. He’s made a difference already, dealing with a lot of average footballers and he’s managed to get them in a groove together.”

“The sale of Dele Alli says a lot really.”

“If you can’t do what I want to do, you’re not gonna play football. Any player with any kind of ego is going to say – ‘I can’t sit here, I need to get out of here.’ Maybe that’s why Dele Alli has gone. I think a few others will be gone in the summer because Conte has got one way of working and if you don’t want to to work, you’re gone.”

“In theory, Tottenham will be competing right there till the end of the season to get that fourth spot. And God help Daniel Levy if Tottenham get into a Champions League spot because then he’ll be going into a firepit because Conte then will be saying what he wants to go out and compete in the Champions League but more importantly to go out and win the Premier League title for Tottenham.”

“When you’ve got Conte as your manager and you can give him the tools to win the league, his record says that he goes and does it. I think we can dismiss this season but the following season is where you can judge him. Tottenham under him will be competing for the Premier League.”

Jesse Lingard was reportedly angry with Man Utd and Ralf Rangnick after his loan moves were blocked by the club. Do you think United were justified in not letting him move? What effect can it have on the squad as we enter a crucial part of the season, with the race for a top four finish and the Champions League coming soon?

“I think Jesse Lingard who spends so much time on Instagram, I think if he really felt that bothered and disappointed about the interim manager saying he’s happy for him to go, then put that on Instagram. Not pictures.”

“Let people know how you’re feeling, you need something new. You’re born and bred Manchester, you love Manchester United but you need regular football. That might help things.”

“He hasn’t, he seems to be content there.”

“Man Utd have kept Lingard, he wasn’t deemed good enough before that’s why he couldn’t get into the team and then he was sent out on loan at West Ham. Should have pushed to go then but didn’t, wanted to get back to Man Utd, maybe to have a photo with Ronaldo for his instagram. He got that by the way.”

“Did he really push enough to go? Didn’t see him raise chatter about that topic that it’s better for his career to move on. I think 99.9 percent of Man Utd fan base would have said that. Doesn’t say a word.”

“Now he mostly feels there’s a chance of him getting more time on the pitch. Is that going to serve him well enough, to prove himself to maybe get another contract to stay.”

“For me, for Man Utd to move forward, Jesse Lingard is not a regular player within that team. They need to move on.”

“So he might get the opportunity but looking at Man Utd and what they’ve got in front of them. When you look at the players who have gone and where they are, those players weren’t playing regularly. And when they have played, they haven’t done it. So all they’re missing really is numbers.”

“When you look at the way they were managed under Ole (Gunnar Solskjær) and they’re still being managed in the same way. The same level of football is still there and hasn’t improved.”

“They’re getting results, which they were before, with entertainment levels fluttering between zero and slightly above zero.”

“They’ve been playing the same players. He’s come in, Rangnick, and playing still the same midfield which everyone knows is not creative. It’s not defensive because they concede goals.”

“Someone will come up and say, let’s talk about clean sheets. The clean sheets are down to the goalkeeper (David de Gea).”

“Some will say that’s his job but I mean he’s making proper saves. He is making saves at times when United should’ve been out of games. Should’ve been out, what teams have done to them.”

“It’s quite embarassing, the amount of saves he’s having to make for a club like Man Utd. When you look at shots against, it’s ridiculous how many they’ve had them considering the club they are, because they don’t dominate the ball.”

“They’ve got Atletico Madrid, Yeah, they’re floundering, they’re not the side of yesteryear.”

“If you look at the the Premier League, the three major sides at the moment, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea – they’re far and away the top three sides in England.”

“The other three, so called of the top six, Tottenham, Arsenal and Man Utd, they’re all chasing at the moment.”

“Tottenham are in a better position because they have a new manager and everyone knows. They’ve given Conte the benefit of the doubt and they’re going on with Conte of recent years.”

“If you’re Arsenal and Man Utd, you’re in a similar kind of mess. What’s happening above (referring to the board) is causing them problems because they cannot get any consistency on the pitch. Nothing at all.”

“When they think it’s right, everything goes to pop.”

“Fourth spot for all those clubs is more about monetary reasons.” 

“Is (Mikel) Arteta going to get more money, if he gets the Champions League spot, to go out and maybe get what he wants and do what he wants, not with the way the club’s running because it is run as a business.”

“If Man Utd get into the Champions League again, I think everyone knows what’s going to happen. The whole cycle starts again about not getting money when it’s important, at the time, to get it. And when there is money available, in certain times it’s the wrong time because then it’s in January.”

“The best time to buy in January is always when you’re in a really solid position as Liverpool have done with (Luis) Diaz. They’ve gone and done that to take them to the next bit.”

“It’s a little bit of a buy for the future because I think you could say, is (Mohamed) Salah going to be staying? You don’t know. (Sadio) Mane seems to not be the player he was a season before. (Diogo) Jota has taken a massive step forward and you look at (Roberto) Firmino, does he score enough goals? 

“He’s (Firmino) very instrumental in the way Liverpool play but he doesn’t score enough to add to that bit. I think he makes a big difference when he plays. When he doesn’t, Liverpool are struggling in certain ways, to connect things together from midfield and through. If you can get someone who can do that and score a few more goals, then it adds a little bit more.”

“Getting Diaz is a fantastic signing, considering Mane who’s been hot and cold this season, where before he was very consistent.”

“Maybe go and buy two.” 

“I was speaking to a German expert, and I asked him about the fullbacks, and he said the fullbacks are important to his (Ralf Rangnick’s) system. And he told me how fullbacks should play. And Manchester United haven’t got those fullbacks that he is looking for.” 

“And it isn’t just running up and down (the pitch). There’s a little bit more to it. The system that he wants to play, which looks very narrow, but the way it was described to me, and Leipzig still play it that way, is that they always got width because of the fullbacks. United haven’t got the fullbacks to do that. They just haven’t got it.”

“As much as they get up and down, they haven’t got that nack for it. There’s a way of getting up and down, and there’s a way of getting up and down, looking like an olympic sprinter, running with carpet slippers on their feet, being smooth, agile,and technically excellent, and they haven’t got them, for what he is looking for in that system he wants to play.”

 “If he’s going to be director of football for that club, that’s the system he wants to play. He  wants the fullbacks to be involved.” 

“The 4 fullbacks that have been playing regularly in the Premier League, they are not the ones that I think could play in that system and play it comfortably. It seems hard work for them to play in that system to be perfectly honest.” 

“You look at the midfield. It isn’t right. Fitting Ronaldo and Fernandes into the system is the hardest with the system he would like to play. So he struggles” 

“He has been evolving a bit and tweaked the system to the personnel that he’s got within that club. And maybe suit it to the people, who maybe want to see certain players play.”

“The line he has gone down, he could be stubborn, but would it be worth his while to try and be stubborn? I think everyone, the right people, know what’s there at Manchester United. A lot of those players have seen a minimum of three managers. Some even had four. Somewhere along the line, you can’t blame all four of them.”

“It’s incredible that you can be at one club and have so many managers. And generally of days gone by, that would have been at a club that was struggling. It would have been at a lower end club, who were really struggling, and were looking for that bounce-back with a new manager. We are talking about Manchester United. So many managers since 2013, it’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s madness at a club of that level. That’s the reason why it hasn’t competed for league titles.” 

“(Achraf) Hakimi (would fit in Rangnick’s system) and I get it. He’s a pretty good full back who can do it on both ends of the pitch.”

“Another full back I really like is the Belgian, Thomas Meunier, who was also at PSG. He’s a good full back, really good and strong full-back. He thunders forward like a train.”

Amad Diallo at Rangers. Do you think he can improve his skill-set under Giovani van Bronckhorst? He marked his debut for the club with a goal.

“During my time we had reserve football. A lot of young players coming through, or slightly older players, young pros who were trying to make a name, or you had bitter pros who couldn’t get in the first team having to play with the reserves. You got some pros out of them, who still wanted to prove a point.” 

“Now it’s under 23-football. I call it stat football – that’s all it is. Just left, right, backwards, forwards, left and right. No one tackles. No one wants to give the ball away, cause there’s people around the side with their laptops just counting the amount of passes.”

 “It’s alright. You get a run out, but you don’t push yourself. There is nothing that drives you. You don’t make tackles. A lot of these kids still don’t know how to tackle properly. They’ll go into a 50-50 and come out with knee ligament problems.”

“So they sent him (Amad Diallo) out to learn to be competitive and play.”

“That technical ability that he’s got will be tested. Because the teams (in Scotland), will be flying in. Tackles are going to be strong, his quick feet are going to be tested properly rather than in training games. It’s going to test him mentailly. Can he deal with the weather and some of the conditions of the pitches?”

“It should in theory, like it did to David Beckham when went out on loan to Preston North End, bring him back, hopefully for United’s sense, a better player. Not just in his abilities, but in his headspace as well. Manchester United is white table cloth-stuff, and he has gone now to a chequered table. He’s going to have it tough.” 

“He’s going to a big club as well, that knows how to treat their players and bring them up with the right people skills. I think it’s a good move for him to go there. I think it’s a really good test, and a lot more clubs should do that.”

 “When he goes out on loan, he needs to play. If he’s not playing, get him back again. But they’ll play him there because of the abilities he’s got. He’s going to play with some decent players. Now Aaron Ramesy has gone there as well. People are going to want to beat Rangers. Him going there is really going to lift Scottish football at this moment in time and I’m pleased for Scottish football. It needs that.” 

“Rangers is a really good club for Dialo to go to and really get to understand British football. Because what he has gone to is real old-school British football. So it’ll make him or break him.”

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