PAUL PARKER reckons Manchester United can win the £70million scrap for a Champions League slot – as long as they come out with all guns blazing.
Parker knows all about pressure, as one of the Old Trafford stars who carried 26 years’ worth of it on their shoulders when the Premier League began in 1992.
There will be plenty of pressure at Leicester this afternoon, too, in a game which will earn the winners a place at Europe’s top table next season.
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And while the current United team is a world away from the all-conquering dynasty Parker was part of establishing, he still believes they can get the result they need.
Providing, that is, they chase all three points against the Foxes, rather than trying to settle for the one they need to seal a Champions League-placed finish.
For while Parker is convinced United – despite two recent hiccups – have an engine room to compare with any around, it is the stokers behind which still causes concern.
First though, the midfield trio of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, which has been key to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men forcing their way into the top four mix.
If they are on their game at the King Power, Parker doesn’t believe there are any better – and Parker reckons much of it is due to the rivalry between Fernandes and Pogba.
He said: “It reminds me very much of when we had Roy Keane and Paul Ince in the same team.
“They both wanted to prove a point to each other, wanted to prove they were better than the other. They were playing with each other, but also against each other.
“You saw it all the time in training. It was about who was more tenacious, who was more aggressive, more energetic, the better holding midfielder, who got into the box more.
United are certainly a lot easier on the eye these days, because they have got that creativity.
“It’s the same with Pogba and Bruno, and United are certainly a lot easier on the eye these days, because they have got that creativity.
“Bruno came into a United side that any team in the Premier League could have beaten, and plenty did. He made them into a decent side.
“And having Matic there as well makes the difference. Although you can have the artists, but if the person at the helm is isn’t handing them a paintbrush, it doesn’t count for much.”
Manager Solskjaer has certainly done that, and Parker is adamant he should be given time to show he can build a squad which can prove genuine title challengers again.
And while he fancies United to unlock the door to Champions League riches today, he feels they are at least three men short of being able to do so.
He added: “They could still do with at least one centre back, and despite the goals they’ve scored, a proper centre forward as well, while they could also do with a left back too.
“The first choice XI may pretty much take care of itself, but there isn’t a great deal beyond that, and it does take time.
“They could do with three who could go into the team now, and maybe another couple to put competition on those who are in there.
“Having said that, I do think they’ll make it against Leicester – but they can’t go out thinking they only need a draw because the defence isn’t good enough to play like that.
“The only worry far is whenever they have faced a game they must win, they have failed. Now they have to break that hoodoo – there would be no better time.”
PAUL PARKER IS A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR TO BETFRED TV
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