Manchester United legend Paul Parker has drawn some very big comparisons between Erik ten Hag and Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of Sunday’s EFL Cup final. Speaking to the Betfred Football Show, Parker talked about how the past and present United managers have the “same mindset”. Ferguson and Ten Hag were pictured dining together this week ahead of the Red Devils’ Wembley meeting with Newcastle United.
“He's the first manager they've had. Everyone else has come in and been a coach.” Parker said, before adding, “They haven't managed the players. And now he's come in and he's bossing the players. The players know where they stand. There’s no more loose stories going about anymore. Look at the way the team’s playing.”
Ten Hag is not the only new face at Old Trafford these days. Parker singled out one of United’s summer arrivals in particular for special praise.
“Casemiro has come in and I remember one person came out and said “he's only come for the money”. When you look at his performances and yes, we all love a bit of money, but he's there for the fight. He's enjoying himself, that’s the difference.”
It’s not just new signings like Casemiro that have helped transform United’s outlook. The former England full back also had some kind words for Raphael Varane.
“I look at Casemiro, I look at Varane, they're enjoying themselves. Varane especially because Varane isn't missing games. He's playing in games and being in a winning mentality. Being at Old Trafford as well, you do not want to miss a game in this situation, because you're worried that you're missing that adulation and it's a wonderful feeling.”
With Newcastle looming on Sunday, the Red Devils can end a trophy drought that extends back to 2017. But Parker acknowledged that lifting the EFL Cup, as gratifying as it is, will not be the be all and end all for United’s Dutch boss.
“He wants to manage in the Champions League again after he had that good time of reaching the semi final with Ajax. So he's going to want to do that and do it as a Manchester United manager as well, which is incredible.
But to get to a final and have that chance of silverware is the cherry on top of the cake, for him to go and do that in the first season. I think he's got the same mindset as the boss. He wants to succeed and on Monday morning, that's gone.”
Seizing on the theme of “the boss”, the great Sir Alex Ferguson, Parker drew a line between the approach of the Scotsman and the man who now sits on the Old Trafford throne.
“Anybody who sits back and rests on what they've got, they're not welcome at the club. Because he wants more and he knows he has to achieve things as Manchester United Manager. He wants to win things and he wants players who want to do the same as him, the same way as Sir Alex.
Of course any comparison between Ten Hag and Ferguson can only be a tentative one at this stage. An endless parade of trophies and decades in the United hotseat separate the two. But the fact that a player of Parker’s pedigree and achievements can see similarities between the two is encouraging news for United fans, and perhaps a worrying omen for the rest of the league.
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