Exclusive - Paul Parker questions United's new stadium plan

FORMER Manchester United ace Paul Parker has no doubts the Red Devils could win the Premier League in 2026... if they do the most important thing, which is...

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-02-22

Louis Hobbs

3 minutes read

Image source: The Sun

FORMER Manchester United ace Paul Parker has no doubts the Red Devils could win the Premier League in 2026.

Two-time Premier League winner Parker knows only too well what’s needed to win the domestic title and perform at the highest level.

Having worked under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson during a decorated career at the club, ex-England international Parker hopes the good times return at Old Trafford – and he’s confident TWO years is enough time to make that change.

“You look at what [Mikel] Arteta has done at Arsenal in the last couple of years, you could do it [win the league] in two seasons,” stressed Parker.

“You could definitely turn it around with the right finances and the right person to go and get the right players. [Players] who turn up at a club with the right ambition to push themselves to win something as an individual, but who have also got enough about them to make sure the people around them have the same passion about them. That’s what makes winners.

“It is possible to turn things around. I certainly believe United could win the league in two years.”

Not the other way around

Parker, who also won the FA Cup and League Cup during a distinguished career at United, which spanned 105 appearances between 1991-1996, hopes Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s arrival at the club – as a new 27% co-owner – will lead to improved success on the pitch.

“He [Jim Ratcliffe] went in at Nice [his other club] and he struggled,” offered Parker.

“He thought he knew football and it didn’t start too well for him. So long as he lets the football people work and lets them get on with it – then I can see him doing well.

“Has he got the finance behind him to do the football, though? He’s spoken a lot about rebuilding the ground – and that takes a lot of money. But I don’t think you can do both; we’ve seen so many clubs who have tried to do both struggle.

“Arsenal struggled, they haven’t won a title since they moved into that [Emirates Stadium] ground. Spurs have struggled as well, teams tend to struggle.

“The question is, are you going to go and put thrills around Manchester United – and say ‘oh, we’re going to have this 100,000 stadium’ or, are they going to do the most important thing, which is go and get a proper team.

“Getting a proper team will lift everything. You build a stadium around a team, not the other way around. The most important thing is getting the team right.

“Even though United are having a bad time, no other club earns more money. But look at how much more money the club could earn if they start putting themselves in a position to win things.

“I think the most important thing is getting everything on the pitch right - and then everything else will fall into place. At this moment in time, the team are huffing and puffing, but if they can start winning more regularly then everything becomes a lot smoother.”

One big whack

Capped 19 times for his country, Parker famously played under another legendary manager – Sir Bobby Robson – and alongside stars including Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton.

At club level, he played with Utd legends Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, and seasoned professionals including Mark Hughes, Brian McClair, Steve Bruce, and Gary Pallister.

But the 59-year-old former right-back, who won the Premier League title in 1993 and 1994, is worried the incentives for success are not the same as they used to be, especially with players getting a signing-on fee and greater wages before they’ve achieved anything on the pitch for their new club.

“When you won games back in my day you used to get a bonus, the incentives were there to win,” reflected Parker. “But the incentives now are nowhere near as great because the players get given all their money in one big whack.

That settled defence

“When you look back at what all the great United teams achieved, they all had a settled defensive back four.

“That back four hardly changed. It was like being in a bubble for a long period of time. It was so important to keep that settled defence; when you’re involved in something and it’s going really well, you just want to be involved and play every minute.

“I’d never witnessed the adulation and euphoria you experience from winning at Manchester United. I’d experienced winning before, of course, but it’s nothing like winning at Old Trafford.

“The difference is the hunger of the fans and how that helps when you’re edging towards something massive. It’s just an incredible feeling.

“You look at what Sir Alex Ferguson achieved in 1999 with that treble-winning side; he stuck with the same defence because he knew how important that was to have that there – through good, bad, or indifferent, the players knew they had each other’s backs.

“That worked for 20-odd years under Sir Alex, it was a very special winning period for the club.”

Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.