Saturday, June 22, 2024

Paul Parker urges Manchester United to keep faith with Erik ten Hag

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Manchester United may face an almost impossible task against rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final, but the club should not ditch manager Erik ten Hag next season, according to former full-back Paul Parker.

United head to Wembley very much the underdogs as neighbours City look to complete another Double following their successful Premier League title defence.

Having finished down in eighth place – a lowest ever Premier League finish – and after crashing out of Europe before Christmas, the spotlight is on Ten Hag’s future.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has found his future under the spotlight this season (Martin Rickett/PA)

Parker joined United from QPR in the summer of 1991, going on to win two Premier League titles and also the 1994 FA Cup final as part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.

The 60-year-old feels despite the odds now being stacked against his old club to lift more silverware at Wembley on Saturday, there could just yet be a chink in City’s armour.

“When we talking about being an underdog, it is not a team from a league below – we are talking about the biggest club in the world against its own neighbour, which is trying to embed itself as the best club in the world,” Parker told the PA news agency.

“No-one can put their hand on their heart and say ‘I expect Manchester United to win’, it is absolutely impossible.

Paul Parker (left) in action for Manchester United
Paul Parker (left) won both the Premier League title and FA Cup with Manchester United (Adam Butler/PA)

“You have got to really explain the reasons why you believe it. Just on form, everything about it, it is impossible to see Manchester United winning it.

“The only thing which does come into it is in the last three or four league games, City were not the same side who had the similar run-in last season – they have not got that kind of spark.

“You saw that in the first half against Spurs and even against West Ham, when they pulled a goal back.

“There was a reaction in the second half of both of those games, and the manager, Pep (Guardiola), he was absolutely fuming – you could see him giving out a hair dryer (team talk) at half-time.”

Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Ipswich boss Kieran McKenna – previously assistant manager at Old Trafford – have all been linked with the United job should there be a change in the dugout this summer.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag lifts the Carabao Cup
Erik ten Hag won the Carabao Cup in his first season (John Walton/PA)

Parker, though, believes Dutchman ten Hag – who won the Carabao Cup in his first season and also secured a return to the Champions League – should be given the time to turn things around.

“I personally would stick with him,” said Parker, a long-time supporter of Prostate Cancer UK, who will unveil their new television advert during Saturday’s FA Cup final targeting men at higher risk of prostate cancer.

“If you change the manager, that means a whole new coaching staff. It would be ‘rinse and start again’.

“There would be too many changes too quickly – and there would still be a lot of dead wood (players) left there.”

Parker added: “I think the fans are fed up with it now. If there was another change, it would be back to square one, they would get even more bitter and twisted about it.

“As much as anyone is talking about all these different names (of potential new managers), I don’t really get it.

“We know already that continuity is massively key – even success with a manager is short-lived now because people get bored of things quicker than they used to a few years ago.

“Arsenal stuck with Mikel Arteta and he has given Arsenal fans a little bit of fun over the last couple of seasons, so the clubs that stick with managers do get a little bit of joy.”

:: Paul Parker is getting behind Prostate Cancer UK’s ‘Find it Earlier’ campaign as the charity declares it is about time you checked your risk. Take Prostate Cancer UK’s 30 second online risk checker now at www.prostatecanceruk.org/risk

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