Exclusive : Manchester United players ‘don’t understand the club’, says legend

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Manchester United’s players don’t seem to understand the profile and demands of the club – that’s the opinion of club legend Paul Parker.

Parker won two Premier League titles and featured in two double-winning seasons for the club, and after watching them collapse 4-0 to Brentford, had to work as a pundit covering yesterday’s thrilling game with Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Despite that 2-2 draw providing plenty of headlines itself, Parker was constantly stopped by people keen to hear his thoughts on events 24 hours earlier – an indication of the enduring size and profile of United, and the demands upon them.

“Everyone was asking me, “what about that yesterday?”, I couldn’t get away,” Parker said, exclusively on this week’s Talking Devils podcast. “Everything was about that game. That’s what Manchester United are to people. I don’t think a lot of those players understand what that football club is about. As much as people hate Manchester United, they still see them as an institution of football… this is consistency at its worst ever for a club at the level of United.”

“There’s a garbage pot and two of the biggest clubs in the world are in it, Barcelona and Manchester United. Real Madrid dug themselves out of it, and as bad as Liverpool were in the 90s and turn of the century, they never had a situation like this. They were never dragged through the mill like United are and that’s because even the people in the media can’t talk about anything else. The game I was at was an incredible game and yet still Manchester United were the talking point above that.”

Parker also took the time to defend David De Gea – the Spanish goalkeeper bore the brunt of the criticism for his part in the conceded goals, but the former United defender feels he was a victim of a culture of unaccountability at the club, and that the nature of the goals conceded was in fact a reflection of team-mates not looking out for each other.

“He’s the last line, so when he makes a mistake it’s likely to end up in the back of the net,” Parker said. “You see players letting the ball run under their feet and presenting a chance, they’ll always get another opportunity. The moment De Gea makes a mistake people say he can’t play again. It’s about knowing strengths and weaknesses of your teammates.

“People said Maguire is great with the ball at his feet. He gave a ball back to De Gea and he knows his strengths and weaknesses better than anybody – goalkeepers are there to make saves. But he gave the ball back to him when he was in trouble, and left it as late as possible, and turned his back as if to say ‘get on with it’. De Gea should have kicked the ball out of play and berated him. The manager wants him to play a certain way so he tried to play it – but he could have got into the dressing room at half-time and answered any criticism by saying ‘did they score?’ He was left in the lurch to make those choices himself.”

Paul was speaking on the Talking Devils podcast as he does every Monday morning. It is the number one independent Manchester United podcast and you can watch it below on YouTube or subscribe to the audio podcast on Spotify here, and Apple Podcasts here.

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