Former Premier League winner with Man Utd, and England international, Paul Parker sat down with us and gave his thoughts on the Red Devils, Fulham and more.
When having watched Fulham play the first two games, do you feel comfortable that the club will avoid relegation?
No. I’m not comfortable. I don’t even think Fulham fans will be. It’s been good for them the way they’ve started. I wonder if they’re going to go and maybe try and bring in more players and that either works or it goes 100% wrong.
When you suddenly bring a team up and you completely change it from where they were, Fulham has done that on two occasions. But they definitely look better than what they had on their previous promotions.
For Fulham, it’s about trying to stay unbeaten as long as possible for confidence reasons, but also to try and get as many early points as possible.
The next game at home is where they need to get three points on the board. At home as quick as possible. They need to do that and get on the board as quick as possible.
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Alexander Mitrovic started out quite well this season, what do you expect from him this time in the Premier League?
I think he’s got to get in double figures.
He got treated quite poorly in the last one by Scott Parker. They were to trying to stay in and left him on the side, which must have affected team morale. When your top goal scorer it’s not playing, doesn’t matter what the manager thinks. He’s got a reputation to score goals for Fulham.
He scored so many goals last season he is not going to score that many in the Premier League. No one does. But he is going to hit double figures, and I think you will be looking around 15, at least if he scored 15 goals and if the midfield can chip in, they stand a better chance of staying up than what they have done.
For Fulham, the biggest problem has always been other players not chipping in. Look at Liverpool. Look at where all their goals come from. Liverpool spread their goals around. Manchester City spread their goals around. Yes, they’ve got their prolific goal scorers, but they’ve got other players.
Is there anyone, in particular, you think needs to step up to help the team to stay up?
I think Harry Wilson. He has done very, very well last season, scoring goals and getting assists. He now needs to prove himself. He’s been around quite a while, he’s been on loan a long, long time. This is his opportunity in the Premier League.
People would be looking at him to try and replicate as much as possible what he did in the Championship.
You mentioned Chelsea to be in the top four at the end of the season. Do you still believe that after their first two matches?
Chelsea is talking about Aubameyang. You look at how many goals he scored for Barca, or his goalscoring ratio for Barcelona is very good. You look at what he’d done for (Thomas) Tuchel in Dortmund. I think Tuchel thinks that he can deal with him. I think that he believes that he can manage him and knows how to manage him, and it doesn’t mean locking him up in a room every night.
If they get Aubameyang, Chelsea will definitely hundred per cent be in the top four.
They would then be able to compete, maybe on a good day, with Manchester City or Liverpool because they’ve got themselves a scorer. Sterling was wonderful (against Tottenham). Sterling played as a big number 9, even though he is not big or wearing number 9, he wears number 17, but he was holding off the big centre-halfs. He was standing there. He did more holding the ball up than what Lukaku has done in all of his time.
Sterling was excellent. He should have scored but put it over the bar. They’ve had a great chance.
What were your biggest concerns watching Man Utd play against Brentford?
If they were going to concede 5 against Brentford. That was my biggest concern.
I was concerned before the game because in my predictions I had two-nil to Brentford. I just couldn’t see United winning the game. I could not see it it just wasn’t there for me from what I saw last week. With what happened at the end of last season, I just didn’t have any belief. I
That first goal didn’t help. A strong-minded side would have reacted a lot better. They still might have got beaten because Brentford might have held on. But they wouldn’t have capitulated so quickly. They were weak-minded. Weak in body and weak-minded.
How severe do you think the confidence crisis is among the players?
I don’t go for this confidence stuff. There is no point in every time players get anything wrong, they blame it on they are tired or lack there is a lack of confidence. Show a bit of pride and maybe when you’re doing well, you should help your teammate who is in a bit of trouble.
Help yourself first, get yourself over your little crisis but then help someone else. In a good team, you help your teammates, as much as they would help you.
I know it’s only two games, but funnier things have been said before and have come true. “I can’t see Leicester winning the league. Don’t be silly.” There you are. Manchester United getting relegated. They could be though. This could be the same scenario at this moment in time.
What do you think ten Hag should do from here?
He’s got to hope and he’s got to get what he’s been promised. The opportunity to still bring in players and he needs three. He needs three more players to help him out. Three new faces.
He’s got to have all these players out there that he knows so that he’s guaranteed 100% honesty because they want to prove a point. He can’t guarantee that he’ll get that out of the players who have been there over the duration of so many managers. He can’t trust them. They should want to prove a point to him. But he’s not sure, he’s not sure.
That’s why he needs as many people around who he has brought in because he knows that they are going to give him 100%.
Martinez was taken off at half-time yesterday. Why was it him and not Maguire?
I’m not really sure. I was astounded by that. He might have been doing him a favour, I don’t know. But he didn’t deserve to come off. No way in a million years should he come off. He can play on the left, as he has done. And (Raphaël) Varane came on because they needed a little bit more brains in there rather than somebody who wanted to try and play like Franz Beckenbauer but ended up playing like ‘Koko The Clown’.
It’s still in the early stage of this Erik ten Hag project, but do you see any kind of belief from the players in this project? Do you feel like the players have given up?
I think it’s not about giving up. I think they’ve lost their edge now. That edge is gone now. Some of these players need now to move on to see if they can get it back again. They can’t get themselves going. Luke Shaw should never have started the game on the weekend. He should not start the next game.
They’ve got to go backwards to go forwards. They’re definitely going backwards because of what’s going on above (with the board).
They’ve got to cover their losses and let players go. If a team wants somebody on loan, they should pay some of the wages, just to get a little bit back.
There are these rumours about Man United wanting to sell James Garner, what are your thoughts on that?
Maybe the manager doesn’t fancy him. Maybe hasn’t seen enough of him, or maybe he has been told he’s got to get some money. Money that could maybe help in going and getting somebody.
It’s about reacting now rather than looking at the long game. United at the moment, I can’t believe I’m saying this, got to look at the short game. They don’t know what the long game is. It’s going into an abyss at the moment with the people in charge.
As a marketing tool, if you are not willing to get into football and the performances are poor on the pitch, you are not very good in the marketing world.
Their biggest Market is Asia, but it’s dying because they are not winning games. After living in Asia for 8 years. I know what their mentality is like, they have got a cupboard full of football shirts.
They are grabbing other shirts out and putting them on instead of Man Utd.
Manchester United want to be involved with number one. And in the moment, Manchester United are not number one.
A section of United fans are planning to boycott Old Trafford this coming week, to protest against Glazer ownership. What are your thoughts on that?
That’s not good. There are no bigger game in this country than that. It’s one of the biggest games in the world because of the support these two clubs have worldwide.
The problem is you got so many people who have already paid for their flights to come in. Some of them have never been to Old Trafford before in their life and just want to be there. They are going to want to still go in and spend a lot of money to go there.
So there are going to be a lot of people. It might be only half-full which will look terrible. 35000 in that stadium will look terrible. That would maybe paint a picture as well.
I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen this weekend.
Do you think that some players might be afraid of going to Manchester United because of the club being so disorganised?
For me it is a good time to be at Manchester United, because if you are there and the club turns around, your stock is going to rise. But to do that, you have got to be a brave player. You have to be a player with ambition. How many players in today’s football have got that much ambition; not many as there was years ago.
But the right players, the players with ambition will sign and they are the ones that you want.
If Manchester United doesn’t solve this midfield problem, would you consider it possible that they aren’t even going to finish in the top 6?
At the moment, at the start of the season, the best that Manchester United can hope for is top six. When I talk about the top six, I mean, finishing fifth or sixth.
It’s going to be a tough one. Tottenham has definitely improved and Chelsea has improved from the way they finished last season. There’s more zest about them. Arsenal, watching them against Leicester. There are a few lapses but they definitely improved. There is a little bit more balls about them. Especially Jesus.
You can see how good (Gabriel) Jesus really is. He was a good player at City, but I’m saying an even better player now. I’m seeing someone who just has more about him. If you look at the other sides; West Ham are going to take points off of people. They are not going to get any worse at this moment in time.
Newcastle is going to be around it as well. So, there are enough teams that can threaten Manchester United for that top six, without a doubt.
In football, if you are not working hard and the man against you is, you’ve lost that battle. And if you have another six players like that, you are going to lose the war, which is a game of football and that’s what’s happening at this moment in time.