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Talking football with Paul Parker – Interview 22nd MARCH 2022

Paul Parker - 22/3/2022

Ahead of the England friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast, OddsNinja caught up with former England and Manchester United ace Paul Parker. He talked about Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho not being called up by Gareth Southgate, and why Harry Maguire was picked by the England coach despite his poor form recently. Paul also discussed transfer rumours, and if James Garner could return to the Red Devils. 

P. Parker’s comments on Marcus Rashford situation in Man United

Marcus Rashford is not having a great month. Out of form and now also out of the England squad. Does his future lie outside of Man Utd? Would Newcastle be a good fit? FC Barcelona have rekindled their interest and Liverpool are also reportedly interested. What would you do, if you were Rashford?

“I really don’t buy the Liverpool one. I don’t think anyone with any inkling of common sense is gonna believe Liverpool (rumours).”

“When you look at the players and look at the ones they’ve gone and brought in recent seasons, just take two of them (Diogo) Jota and (Luis) Diaz. Both of them joined Liverpool and hit the ground running. I don’t think Liverpool, PR wise, are going to take a player who’s playing very very poorly for Manchester United and then introduce him to their squad. I’m writing that one off.”

“FC Barcelona is an easy one to throw up but Barcelona very rarely takes English players.”

“Newcastle again, are very easy to throw up, because allegedly they’ve got a lot of money.”

“I think it’s an agent who is throwing that around and he can’t be the best if he’s throwing him around because people are gonna maybe say what I’m saying.”

“I look at the end of the day, he’s having a poor, poor time. He might just need to go and think about exactly what he wants. Put everything else outside of his job, put that away and concentrate on what his job is. Because without his job, he wouldn’t have had those distractions.” 

“So, as far as I’m concerned, whatever he’s been doing and he’s putting his name to, he has to put that to bed. You can’t do both. Not at the level of football he’s playing and the fact that he plays for Manchester United. It’s too much around it, he’s in the public eye, everybody is looking at him. I just think it’s too much, too early and he hasn’t coped with it.”

“If you look at his football, he should have been like an England regular now, the way he started.”

“And now he can’t get in the squad and rightly so because he hasn’t been playing well enough to be playing in the England squad. I think Gareth Southgate would have made a run for his own back if he brought him in.”

“There are still other players you’d say are questionable, but he couldn’t have brought him (Rashford) in because everyone would have looked at him and said – ‘well hold on a minute, what’s going on here? With England and picking players, what’s going on?’ His current form is important.”

“Marcus Rashford, if he is going to be sold, he’ll have to be sold cheap. You can’t put a price tag on him at this moment in time because he just hasn’t been anywhere near. People will say, well we’ll take him on, we don’t know what we’re getting so why pay a lot of money.”

“What’s gonna happen, if he gets to the end of the season and the new manager comes in, he’s gonna have to talk to him about what he really wants to do.”

“At the end of the day, if he’s not a Manchester United player, he’s not really good for anyone else. They’re not interested in him, PR wise, to be perfectly honest.”

“Manchester United and England sells Marcus Rashford. Marcus Rashford without England and Manchester United is a nobody to the people out there who want to sell/market him.”

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Paul Parker’s comments on the England Team

What do you think about Jadon Sancho’s omission from the England squad? He seems to have hit his stride in the last few games.

“I look at some of the players in front of him and he’s done okay. It’s been little bursts. It hasn’t been consistent.”

“You’ve seen it now and again, it’s a lot better than what it was a few weeks back.”

“Football is not about little bursts. He’s improving but he needs to do more.”

“It doesn’t surprise me that he’s not in the squad. People might talk about (Emile) Smith-Rowe who’s in there when he hasn’t really played and again that’s Gareth Southgate putting himself under a little bit of pressure by doing that.”

“There’s so many people who’ve got an opinion about it and they’ll say that Sancho has at least been playing, yeah but I’m saying that he has been playing alright, there’s been good bits, but it hasn’t been a consistent level because of being in a poor side at the moment.”

“Manchester United haven’t been playing well over a duration of time. United cannot play well over 90 minutes, they might be good in 25 minutes in the first half but generally, the second half has been poor.”

“Personally it doesn’t surprise me that he isn’t there. I think again, its the price tag, is what people might be looking at and people want him to do well so when they see a good bit, they’re isolating the bits on there. People want to prove it so they’ll make a montage and show all these good bits, taken from different games but that isn’t good enough really.”

“Now he’s gotta ask himself how much he plays for his country and the next time he plays for his club, he’s gotta do more. He’s gotta be in the game more regularly than what he is. He’s a bit part at the moment. If the team isn’t playing well, he’s gotta go and make things happen, rather than waiting for things to happen. When he gets the ball, go and find the ball to go and prove a point. He hasn’t done that yet.”

“He’s better now than what he was a few months ago. That’s the only positive I can say.”

Harry Maguire being called into the England team by Gareth Southgate – doesn’t look like he deserved it on form. Was this a case of the ‘right player for the system’ that Southgate likes?

“Harry Maguire has been picked in the England squad, or the squad at the moment, because of what he’s done before. He’s played quite well for his country and I think Gareth Southgate is standing with him and maybe at the moment, doesn’t want to destroy him by not picking him.”

“His current form hasn’t been good but by going away, this time, he can’t afford, if he does play, to perform what he has been doing at club level.”

“Because straight away, Gareth Southgate will be on his back foot because people will be questioning him and then for Harry Maguire, it will be very, very difficult for him to come back from that.”

“We have to wait and see when England plays. They are friendlies, they’re supposed to not matter in a way. They’re certainly not mattering to anybody because the time that they’ve come now, people are not that interested. They really just want their league clubs to be playing their games.”

“For certain players these games are important. They’ve got to treat them as games to get themselves back into the system again and Harry Maguire needs a good performance for his country because he’s gonna be scrutinised by every single football supporter and maybe even non-football supporters because even they’re gonna want an opinion about his performance for the country.”

“So, he’s gonna be watched, with or without the ball.”

“That first game against Switzerland, everyone’s gonna be watching because Switzerland is a decent team. They always qualify for tournaments. It is really important and Harry Maguire cannot afford to take his foot off the gas. He has to step forward and maybe go and show it there.”

“If he can gain any kind of confidence in that game, it can only really take him towards maybe showing something for United, even though one game doesn’t make a difference really, it’s about the duration of time and he needs to find consistency in his game because he’s been poor.”

P. Parker’s comments on Manchester United Future

In this race for the top 4 spot, who do you think will be Manchester United’s most important player or set of players? Who can make that difference?

“Well, that is a serious, seriously tough question.”

“It’s easy for me to say David de Gea because he’s gonna be their player of the season, I think.” 

“Even though people are still sceptical about him, he’s the one keeping them in games and people are saying he’s the reason why United are causing the shots. But, for that, you gotta look what’s in front of him and that kind of answers it.”

“It’s easy for me to say Ronaldo but Ronaldo needs help from other people. Definitely, he can’t do it on his own anymore. 2000s or so, whatever, yes he could win games on his own but he can’t do it now. He hasn’t got those energy levels any more.”

“You’ve got to look at it and it’s really difficult. The only way United can finish in the top four, if they as a team, get better defensively. Midfield tries to dominate games and they get themselves in good areas.” 

“To score goals they need Ronaldo. I’ve gotta say, Ronaldo like he was against Tottenham. Get him in those areas, get him facing goal. Work hard to make space for him. If you can make space for him and allow him to shoot, he will hit the target. And that’s what they don’t do. They don’t cross the ball early enough.”

“I’ve seen one real good cross come in since Ronaldo has been at Old Trafford and that was in the last game against Spurs. Alex Telles knocked the ball from the left hand side, he just whipped it in early, almost from the touchline. He hit it early and Ronaldo applauded him.”

“When the ball is in wide areas, Ronaldo, he makes movements, so just put the ball in early. An early one is better than a late one when defenders can get closer, defenders can get goal side. Knock it in early and he will find space.”

“So I would say it’s about the team that’s gonna be picked. He’s got to decide, the manager, what’s his correct fullbacks, what’s his best centre-half partnership, what’s his best midfield. And if he can find those bits out and stick with it to then end of the season, forget about resting people, I really don’t understand it.”

“The only way he’s going to find consistency is by playing a consistent team.”

“United haven’t got the individuals like we talk about United many years ago. They definitely haven’t got it. You could say Arsenal have got their individuals, Tottenham definitely have. Manchester United definitely haven’t got that individual, you say, can go out and win them the game.”

“From my time watching United as a kid, to playing for them and then watching them, up until really in theory, in 2013, when Sir Alex (Ferguson) retired, you could pick out individuals. You just know that when United would be having poor games, someone like a Wayne Rooney would pop up, a Ryan Giggs would pop up, a Mark Hughes would pop up.”

“All those kinds of things, there’d be a goalscorer, there’d be a winger with something. United haven’t got those individuals at this moment in time.”

“Could it be Elanga? Could he suddenly burst on the scene and maybe do that?” 

“He’s the one who’s got that change of pace, maybe that little bit of arrogance, who might do something.”

“Other than that really, there isn’t really anybody you’d name, who can go and grab hold of the game and get United over the line.”

“Arsenal are in a fantastic position to go and grab that fourth spot. They’ve got a big, big advantage.”

“It’s getting to that point now where people have to maybe say that they have little bit of faith in Arsenal. There is a bit more stability in there now, more consistency with them now for them to go over the line.”

“Forget about the Liverpool game, the other day, no one expected them to win that one but they were comfortable against Aston Villa. You don’t often say that about Arsenal. They were comfortable and Villa were never going to get back in that game.”

“After being at Villa vs West Ham, I would’ve been shocked if Arsenal had lost that game to Villa, who were very poor and negative against West Ham and they weren’t much better against Arsenal.”

Richarlison has come up as a target. Would you take him?

“If you have a manager who can discipline him, because I think he lacks discipline. He’s not trustworthy. Wants to fall down all the time. Gets too emotional and gets involved in personal battles against people on the pitch. I would say no. I can’t really think of something positive.”

“You can see him scoring goals now and again, but I’m going to say no at this moment. He doesn’t really fit into what United would be looking for at this moment. But football now is not always about a football club, it’s always about a coach. And if you get the right coach who wants to discipline players, and get them to work that way, then it can work. But there aren’t many like that. To say a club has a manager who disciplines and loves continuity, it’s David Moyes at West Ham. Not many changes. People say ‘oh they are always tight’, but like I said before. They are playing football, not digging roads.”

“David Moyes gets the most out of his teams and the players enjoy that, because they are playing every game. They are not sitting around, they are not being ‘in-out, in-out’, they are getting momentum going which makes you better as an individual and helps the team.”

“I don’t know who United will get as a manager, but Richarlison for me doesn’t really fit. It would be interesting to see what Everton fans think about him. Are they one hundred percent behind him? I think they are no different to me and everyone else. They will say he’s very inconsistent. When he scores or when he’s ready for Everton, it’s fine, but you don’t know what you are getting.”

Looks like Paulo Dybala will be available on a fee transfer. Would you take him? His weekly wages are unlikely to be low.

“Again, it’s all about the manager. He’s young in certain ways. He has threatened to become a great, but hasn’t really done it. He wants to play in that number 10 role, or on the right hand side. When you look at it, he doesn’t have a great pace.” 

“It would be interesting to see what teams he could play in. Maybe only a few teams he could play in if he was coming to the Premier League. But he’s another player to whom I’m going to say ‘no I don’t think so’.” 

“We talk about no fee to pay, but you’ll throw him on big wages and that affects the dressing room, because players now know what others are getting. Didn’t during my time. Players get a little bit bitter and precious about that. So I don’t think so.” 

“There’s a reason why Juventus has done what they have done for him to be in that position. That’s a worry.”

James Garner has been impressing while on loan at Nottingham Forest. Think he could be knocking in for a place in the Man Utd squad next season? Or does it make more sense for him to get more playing time somewhere else? 

“I’ve seen him play a few times, but when you watch Nottingham Forest play in the Championship, it’s proper competitive football. He’s played at a quicker pace than the Premier League. There’s more minutes in the games in the Championship, because players don’t keep falling over as often as what they are doing in the Premier League. So he plays in a high tempo midfield.”

“You look at what he does, he doesn’t give the ball away cheaply. I think given what he has gone out and done, he’s doing the hard yards down there, and it’s about him more than anything.” 

“If he’s got that about him, and he thinks he’s better than what United have got at the moment and he deserves an opportunity, then he’s got to turn around and say that’s what he wants to do, or if he doesn’t believe that he’s going to get the opportunity, then he should be looking to move. Maybe go backwards in order to go forwards.”

“I think he’s got to look at it pre-season and see what’s going on. The last thing he wants now is maybe help a team into the playoffs. Play in the playoffs, maybe get to the final, maybe even more so help them get in the Premier League, and then sit around and not even make the squad in a Premier League for Manchester United.”

“He’s had that taste now and I’d be very surprised if he wants to sit and watch anymore. If he’s got anything about him, he’s got to go and try and play as high as possible.”

Benjamin Wilson
32 articles
Based in Calgary, Alberta, Benjamin Wilson has been in the sports and casino industry for nearly 15 years. While his expertise is in hockey at all high levels, Benjamin also brings knowledge of all major North American team sports, plus some of the biggest international sporting events. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta and became passionate about the gaming industry shortly after graduating. Benjamin’s favorite team include Calgary Flames and Edmonton Elks.
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