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Sir Alex Ferguson would show more respect for Bastian Schweinsteiger, says Paul Parker

Paul Parker, a former Manchester United defender has said a lot about his former club this week, comments varying about Jose Mourinho, Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba and much more, some bitter, some truthful and some that give some food for thought. This time, the former defender has weighed in about the treatment of Bastian Schweinsteiger after being told that he was not part of Jose Mourinho’s plans this season and him being resigned to train with the reserves. Whilst this may seem harsh, a player who has not future at the club under the new manager would not be training with the first team as he would them become an extra in something which he was not going to be part of.Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport

Schweinsteiger is a legend of the game, but his last season, his first at the club, he was hardly a player that sealed his place in the team and avoided injury. For much of the season, he was on the sidelines, ending the season on the treatment table, but then recovered in time to represent Germany in the European Championships this summer. I remember comments at the time with many slating him for not being available to play for his club, but seemingly pulling out all of the stops to represent Germany. I do not think it was like that, injuries are not something you can always put a date on them being over by and it seemed to be the case that his recovery was timed with the Euro’s commencing.Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport

Schweinsteiger, despite winning the FIFA World Cup two years ago, was not a player who was at the top of his game. Bayern Munich sold him, despite suggesting they did so reluctantly, they still sold him. That meant he was not actually in their plans last season. That would say a lot. When United manager Louis van Gaal signed the German, I was quite happy as it meant that United had the strongest midfield since the departure of Roy Keane more than a decade before. United had already signed Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera, which gave a decent amount of depth in the squad, also adding Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini. Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport spoke about the treatment of Schweinsteiger, saying:

“There is no way Sir Alex would treat someone like Schweinsteiger is being treated. He would be told he can leave but treated with respect and still involved in training as long as he had the right professional attitude. Mourinho never gave Schweinsteiger the opportunity to be professional about the situation. He just said ‘You’re not in my plans so you train with the kids’. That’s great for the kids but even they will be wondering why this World Cup winner is training with them.

“You would have to say something against him or be derogatory towards Manchester United for Sir Alex to ever treat someone badly. The records show it. Then you leave very quickly like with Jaap Stam.”

Sir Alex Ferguson was no pushover. He got rid of Roy Keane and Jaap Stam, among many others for reasons such as disrespecting their teammates on MUTV and allegations made in an autobiography. Whilst the reasons may have seemed trivial at the time, it would be seen as a negative on the most watched football club in England and the media would have had a field day if nothing was done. It also showed some disrespect to the gaffer, who was not the type of guy to suffer fools gladly. The Schweinsteiger scenario is completely different. With all managers who take over clubs, some players are in their plans, others are not. That is all part and parcel of the game. Every player should know that. Whilst Schweinsteiger is a professional, he’s not the type of player Mourinho feels he should build his team around. United have the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick in midfield, all of which offer something different. Adding Schweinsteiger to that list would possibly be one too many and with his injury prone debut season, which will have gone against him, the manager made his mind up.

Many see this as something similar to the Victor Valdes scenario, who spent all of last season training with the reserves after refusing to play for them the season before, at a time where he should have been building up his fitness. This never came out until the pre-season tour of the United States of America in which Valdes was left out of the squad for. Van Gaal told the media when asked and gave his reasons as to why. Many saw red with the news and defended the goalkeeper, as in their eyes he could do nothing wrong. The same seems to be happening right now with Schweinsteiger. How do people expect him to be treated? Put him in the first team, let him train with the first team, but just not pick him for any matches. That would not be fair and much like this scenario, the media would be all over it criticising United, as that is what seems to bring in the money for them. Everyone likes to read about United, whether positive or negative. Hated, adored and never ignored.

I am sure Mourinho will have told Schweinsteiger politely, not just said you are not in my plans, you are now training with the reserves. Nothing like that will be passed onto the media, they will just get a sniff of the story and react negatively to it, as that seems to be good journalism these days. Look at Joe Hart and Yaya Toure of Manchester City, they have effectively been dropped with the former on his way out of the club, yet nothing slating the club for doing that. If United get negative press for telling a player they are not in their plans, why don’t City. Both players have achieved things with the club, more than Schweinsteiger has done for United! At the end of the day, Schweinsteiger can say he has played for Manchester United, keep his head held high about that. He is a legend of the game, but also one who is in his twilight years and deteriorating. He was a good option last season, much like Radamel Falcao was the summer before, but much like the Colombian, it just did not work out for the German.

Read the full 888sport interview with Paul Parker, including his thoughts on why this is a defining season for ‘overweight’ Rooney and whether Pogba will live up to his price-tag

Valencia should be dropped for Fosu-Mensah; Blind better than Mertesacker – Paul Parker

Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker has spoken about his former club a lot over the past few days. He has sounded quite bitter with some of the comments he has made, but other seem to show the guy has some sense, others give a clear talking point. United are currently in another period of rebuilding, the past two periods have not worked all that well. Jose Mourinho, the new manager has conducted a lot of business this summer by bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba – with other names linked to the club through the media. The one position that seems to be a conundrum for the manager to solve is a right-back, a position Parker himself used to occupy for United, for five years with Gary Neville assuming his position after he was unable to remain fit.

Parker feels that Antonio Valencia, United’s current first-choice right-back, despite the fact he is a winger and not a defender, should be dropped in favour of the much younger Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The 18-year-old made ten appearances for United under Louis van Gaal last season, filling in at right-back, which is one of the many positions the Netherlands youth international can play. With Fosu-Mensah in the right-back position, United played well and the standout match for me will be the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, of which Fosu-Mensah started at right-back, but a knock forced him off the pitch, which was when the gates opened and United conceded three quick-fire goals. Before then the player was commanding his area and thwarted Spurs’ efforts on the right. If he was fit, the result may not have been that bad for United. Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“The position United have to worry about is right-back. They have Fosu-Mensah who is absolutely perfect. He is a very good defender and in the final third he’s as cool as a cucumber. He never panicked last season and has an arrogance on the ball. He would be a better bet than Valencia who is fine up to a point but doesn’t have a trick. The thing that goes against Fosu-Mensah is that he’s young and Mourinho doesn’t like young players. It’s the same old story and if that’s what is keeping him out of the side that’s a concern.

“For me, it doesn’t make any sense to pick Valencia against Bournemouth. He can’t defend and by that I don’t mean he can’t tackle but he doesn’t sense danger and his positional sense is poor.

“Fosu-Mensah is a young player who has done very well so you then look at the manager who has to give something back, to make him feel a part of the team. I had that with Gary Neville. I was told by Sir Alex that Neville had to play because he was worried that if he didn’t play him he’d start to lose his confidence. That’s how Sir Alex worked with young players. When he saw they were ready but there was an older pro ahead of them he’d look at the long-term picture.”

Parker has a point with Fosu-Mensah, whilst he was still playing for United, Neville was drafted in to build up his confidence, eventually with the player knocking Parker out of the team and then away from the club. Fosu-Mensah is good enough right now and the fact he has been given a lower squad number, from 51 to 24, it suggests that he has a future at the club, but perhaps Mourinho wants to ease him into the team so he is not being thrown straight into the deep end. At 18, many will see his as too young for the responsibility to play for Manchester United, but a wise man once said; “if they are good enough, they are old enough”. Another not-so-wise man said “you cannot win anything with kids” and he still gets a lot of banter for that statement today. I believe that Fosu-Mensah, should he see himself as a right-back in the future, would be a credible player to assume the role this season, should Mourinho, of course, feel he is ready and has earned the chance.

United also have Matteo Darmian, a player Louis van Gaal purchased las summer from Torino and despite a decent start to the season, his form soon declined and he was, more often than not, played as a left-back to cover the then injured Luke Shaw. Darmian does not seem to have a future at United after Valencia was considered over him and he has seen little action since the start of the season. The Italian has a problem with his crossing, which could be the main reason for him not being in the squad currently, which would be a shame after he arrived at the club around a year ago with much regard and belief that ‘he would be the one’. One thing is for sure, United have a good option for the right-back position and Fosu-Mensah, should he feel ready, can take it from the Ecuadorian.

Parker also spoke about another Manchester United defensive counterpart, Daley Blind. The Netherlands international arrived at the Old Trafford club in the summer of 2014 with his signing confirmed on deadline day along with Radamel Falcao, who was signed on loan. Blind, a utility player could play as a left-back, central defender and even a defensive midfielder was seen as a good purchase for the club. His first season was touch and go as he filled in in midfield, with Michael Carrick suffering an injury ridden season, and at left-back, with Luke Shaw having trouble to maintain his fitness and his form. Blind did well in both areas, but it was last season where he defined himself as a United player. Phil Jones suffered many injuries and so did Marcos Rojo, which left a vacancy in the centre of defence to partner Chris Smalling. Blind was the chosen one, having one hell of a season where United along with Tottenham Hotspur had the best defence in the Premier League, conceding only 35 goals. United finished fifth that season, which did not make them look as good as having one of the best defences.

Blind is one of those players who is able to read the game, think on his feet and make up for some of his weaknesses, namely his height. The Dutch international is a player I admire, and many do not see why. United supporters love to slate a player they feel bitter towards, and many seem to make up reasons for not liking the player. United’s defence last season, albeit makeshift with no first-choice right-back and the main left-back injured, did well to achieve the feat they did. Blind and Smalling were a good partnership and would be today if it was not for Eric Bailly, who has earned his place in the team with Smalling facing suspension from the first league game of the season, and a minor injury. Paul Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“Daley Blind has always impressed me. He hardly gives the ball away and as for his height – because we know there are a lot of very tall centre-backs in the Premier League – you could ask who would you have over him or Mertesacker? I’d have Blind all day long.”

Parker feels that Blind is much better than Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker, which I would have to agree with – although comparing him to the German veteran may be seen as an insult. There are many defenders in the Premier League who Blind could teach a lesson too. Arsenal seems to have a problem in defence whatever the position as their injuries seem to mount up, even after the summer where many of their players will have been resting. Blind is a great option for any club and you can see why many clubs were interested in the Dutchman this summer. He was linked to Barcelona and Inter Milan amidst the rumours that he and Juan Mata would be the first players out of the door after Mourinho’s arrival. The media seem to have got that one wrong as both have been in the manager’s plan. This season I see Blind playing in defence again, possibly rotated with Smalling and Bailly to maintain match fitness and freshness for matches, as United will soon feel the heat once the UEFA Europa League starts and the domestic competitions start in September and January. Parker seems to have been very bitter recently in some of his comments about his former club, but about Blind and Fosu-Mensah, he is onto something. Something which could be good for the club for years to come.

Read the full 888sport interview with Paul Parker, including his thoughts on why this is a defining season for ‘overweight’ Rooney and whether Pogba will live up to his price-tag

copyright: JW