In the midst of a very busy schedule for ‘the Red Devils’, we caught up with former Manchester United and England international Paul Parker. He gave his two cents on how Graham Potter would do as the manager of Manchester United, why the Swedish wonderkid Anthony Elanga should get his run of games now, and how Fabio Carvalho has the Liverpool ‘vibe’ but would struggle to find his way into a strong Liverpool team.

Graham Potter’s name is doing the rounds regarding the managerial job at Manchester United. Is it too big a step up from Brighton to Manchester United?

“Potter, I personally don’t think so when you look at where Ole Gunnar (Solskjær) came from.” 

“You look at Graham Potter, he’s got a better CV than Ole as manager. The only thing he hasn’t done is play in a Champions League final and score the winning goal.”

“His management is a lot better than what Ole’s was. He’s definitely got the credentials to go and do the job. In theory, what he’s done, he’s won things in Sweden. He’s travelled all over and everywhere he’s gone, he’s done well.” 

“His experience of European football is definitely stronger than what David Moyes’ is. David Moyes got the job as well.”

“When you look at it, I do like Graham Potter, I like the football that he wants to play. Again, up until they lost a player, Brighton were always in that game. They could tell themselves maybe they were the better team.”

“You look at the players he’s gone out and got, they’ve cost peanuts. You look at those players compared to Manchester United players, their technical ability and their movement – they’re better footballers.”

“So you think to yourself, he knows where to go and get players for the right money. He would know high quality players, he would know the ones to get, he would know about their mentality as well because that is so important as we see with Manchester United, buying big names and buying, you know, what you watch on Twitter, the montages – it doesn’t guarantee they’re gonna be perfect for 38 games in a season. He seems to know that because the performances at Brighton are very consistent – the only consistency they haven’t got is the fact that they’re not scoring enough goals.”

“I like Graham Potter. He did well at Swansea, he’s done really well at Brighton. It’s gonna come to a point where even himself, he knows that he wants to go on to the next stage and Brighton just can’t supplement that for him for where he wants to go. He’s got a great relationship, I believe, with the owner as well. They know in their way, they’ve got a good one that’s gonna be so difficult to replace down there.”

“The biggest thing that goes against him, in my opinion, Graham Potter, is that he’s English. And, people out there don’t see him as a PR machine as a manager. And that’s the bit that everyone will look at. That’s the reason why his name doesn’t get mentioned, it should get mentioned for what he’s doing at a club like Brighton. It’s not just about winning games, it’s about how they’re winning games and how they’re winning.”

“It was easy for him to go and manage Brighton and be a bit like Chris Hughton and just go negative and say make us difficult to beat – if he can go at Manchester United, get a draw and play negative football, that will count. But he’s not.”

“He’s proven to people he can manage a team and compete with Manchester United, playing better football than Manchester United. They can compete with Liverpool, with Man City because of the way they play. And that’s the difference between them and a lot of other teams in the Premier League.”

“They’ve got a massive concern is they don’t score enough goals when they should be, the areas they enter. But so what, 98% of the Premier League got that problem. Cause everyone was saying – “if we had a centre-forward.” Man City were among the ones who said, “if we had a centre-forward, we could have won that Champions League game, 8 or 9.”

“You can see it the way the players they’ve gotten, the players they’ve sold. The way they defend, they don’t concede many goals as well. They haven’t spent £80 million on a centre-back. So, Graham Potter, for me, is a fantastic, underrated shout.”

“I think he carries himself well, the way he talks before, talks after. He’s not aggressive, not nasty. He doesn’t need to go and shout and scream at people to get involved because he knows that once that decision has been made, shouting and screaming will make no difference in what he does.”

“He’s got a stature about him, he’s got something about him, that’s got him to where he is in a short space of time at Brighton. So, it’s gonna come to a point where he’s gonna get frustrated because that next level is a jump up from Brighton.”

 

Anthony Elanga found the back of the net against the rivals Leeds. Is scoring a goal what it took for him to cement his position in the starting XI moving forward? He didn’t get the nod to start against Leeds. Is there any way both him and Sancho get  into the team? 

“I think Elanga should’ve been given a longer run in what he did before. He got left out for the game against Middlesbrough, then comes on and misses the penalty and that was the time to put him back in the side and he (Ralf Rangnick) never did that, he kept persisting with Rashford.”

“Hopefully he’s over that one now and he doesn’t get forced into doing that. When you’ve got a young player like that, and I always say, from the days of Sir Alex (Ferguson), he looks at young players and he just knows. When they’re playing well, you got to keep playing them, for their own confidence. You can’t just keep taking them in and out, unless the person who’s coming in is achieving – he’s been a regular player, is a big name, top player.”

“Elanga was left out to supplement Marcus Rashford. It doesn’t matter how he is or where he is. He’s sitting there and he’s watching and in the end, in his head, he thinks he should be playing. All the fans see it.”

“I believe he needs to run. When you look at what he achieves in games, I think he’s done better than (Jadon) Sancho.” 

“Sancho has done a few little bits and everyone’s raving about him. Sancho’s doing little bits at the moment and people, and I suppose, in ways, are talking positively to give him more confidence to try and get more out of him.” 

“You want more out of Sancho, you need more out of him very quickly. £70 million, 70-odd million. Everyone goes – ‘he’s young’. But, he’s played a lot of Bundesliga games and he’s played a lot of games in the Champions League. His experience is above his age so he should be doing better than he is now, on a more consistent basis.”

“Elanga needs a run of games now because he always needs to run behind and he’s someone quicker in that front line as well. On the counter, he can make a big difference as well.” 

“And the fans, in a way, will demand it because he’s a lad who’s come through that side of which they enjoy young players coming through. They want to see those guys get a run because they believe they can trust them because the club is in their blood.”

 

Manchester United are reportedly intent on getting Fabio Carvalho from Fulham – a player Liverpool were moving for in January. Can Carvalho be a good addition or is going for another winger/attacking midfielder not worth it for Manchester United?

“I think he’s a really good player. I’ve seen him quite a few times. Can get a little bit, maybe bullied, but that’s the Championship a little bit. But you’ll mostly get more out of him, if he plays at a higher level with better players.”

“The problem with United is that we don’t know how they are going to play. There’s no great pattern of play. There’s no foundation. You don’t know what formation they are going to play. I think maybe this is just something that’s being mentioned in the press. Don’t hold your breath, because Manchester United is getting mentioned with every player.”

“I can see the ‘Liverpool side’, but the only thing is, they also got Harvey Elliot already. And you just think to yourself, when they got him, and look at what they got in midfield already, is he going to go there and not play a lot of football? I think he’s at that stage where he needs to be playing football on a regular basis.” 

“Because at the midfield at Manchester United, I don’t know where you would fit him in. I know where I would want him to play. But Manchester United’s midfield at the moment is all about hard work – digging in. Not for the fact of quality football and playing through midfield, because they don’t keep the ball. That’s the problem. Someone like him, you would want to get him in good areas with the ball at his feet. And I just don’t think they are playing that way.”

“(Bruno) Fernandes is in there as well. Someone who in a way plays in the same way. But this lad is at the same level, maybe better in that sense that he’s not trying to knock 60-yard balls everywhere, but he is a good runner with the ball. So you supplement him by having someone like Fred around him, who would be that extra bit of legs. He’s got to play at a high energy team, and Manchester United are not high energy in midfield. It’s ponderous.”