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Friday, October 27, 2006

United 2 Liverpool 0

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George Best £5 note to be released

Press Release

The commemorative bank note, celebrating one of Northern Ireland's and the world's best known sporting personalities, will feature images of George Best in both his Northern Ireland and Manchester United strips. The unique five-pound notes will be made available for fans through Ulster Bank branches across Northern Ireland and by mail order for fans in the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and further afield.
Ulster Bank Group CEO, Cormac McCarthy, was joined by members of the Best family and representatives of the George Best Foundation, Dickie Best and Barbara McNarry, to unveil the finalised artwork for the bank note.
Speaking at the unveiling, Cormac McCarthy, Ulster Bank Group CEO said,
"At the outset of this project we wanted to ensure that, in celebrating the life of this legendary footballer, we paid fitting tribute to his contribution to football in Northern Ireland and beyond. We wanted to make it possible for fans throughout Northern Ireland and further afield to own their very own piece of unique George Best memorabilia. By selecting the most affordable note denomination, five-pounds, we have tried to make the notes as widely accessible as possible."
He added, "As one of the leading banks in Northern Ireland we feel that we are in a unique position to commemorate a sportsman whose achievements are recognised by many of our customers. This is the first time that Ulster Bank has commissioned a commemorative bank note and by limiting the print run to a million notes this makes the initiative even more significant."
In keeping with Ulster Bank Group's ongoing community investment programme a donation is also being made to the George Best Foundation to support the promotion of cross-community contact through participation in football.
Commenting on the launch of the note, Barbara McNarry, George Best's sister and company secretary of the George Best Foundation said, "When Ulster Bank approached us with the idea of creating a commemorative bank note we had no hesitation in supporting the project. The unique tribute to George and the fact that so many people will be able to "own" this special memento is a welcome and fitting accolade at this particularly poignant time." She added, "We also welcome the ongoing support and generous donation from Ulster Bank Group to the work undertaken by the Foundation in the promotion of healthy living through participation in sport."
The five-pound George Best notes will be available from mid-November coinciding with the first anniversary of his death.

The sort of stuff you miss if you don't buy Red News

exclusive interviews. Below the first part of our Paul Parker interview.

In future mags you'll see exclusive chats with Clayton Blackmore, Micky Thomas, Wes Brown and Paul McGrath, as well as the concluding part of the chat with Parker. Don't miss what they have to say. Don't miss the mag...

Paul Parker's new book

The names can be reeled off effortlessly. Schmeichel, Parker, Irwin, Bruce, Pallister, Ince, Keane, Kanchelskis, Cantona, Hughes and Giggs.
Of course players like Bryan Robson, McClair and Lee Sharpe played their part during that season, but those are the names of the team which now seem synonymous with our imperious Double winning season of 1993/94.
In fact that team only played together in less than half the games that season but they were the backbone for some glorious football, most personified when that very 11 hammered Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 on a March night. Hughes’ thunderbolt, viewed by that fat Tango supporter of theirs who watched games with his shirt off. Crestfallen and cold he looked that night. And we were hot!
Paul Parker helped shore up a rickety defence and played a vital part during those groundbreaking seasons. He’d always looked the part when he played against us for QPR. I remember him man marking Peter Davenport out of the game once. Granted not the greatest of our players, but when called upon he even gave Sparky a run for his money when they faced each other.
Since retiring he’s tried his hand at management and didn’t like it. He’s now turned to becoming a pundit and to be fair has come on leaps and bounds. As with this interview, he’s starting to not be afraid with what he has to say and even gets to tell it like it is alongside Lou Macari on mutv. Much more objective than Paddy Crerand, however welcome he can be at times in an ABU world.
Better still, Parker is a genuinely nice guy. There is a book to plug but he isn’t forcing it on you (review next mag), and in a first for Red News he not only gives us his mobile number, but also sends a text later saying if ever there is anything we need in the future, just let him know. The tape runs out after 30 minutes and he - now this is a first - is glad to continue for another 30. His wife is shopping nearby anyway so he has plenty of time!
It’s during the World Cup, but the bar where we meet is surprisingly empty. Two city suits whisper something as one recognises Parker, and after we’re done he heads off to meet his wife and I make sure I haven’t fucked up the recording, again (see past RN!).
I forgot a photo and curse my incompetence, only to see Parker as I head back towards Liverpool Street Station. There he is, on his mobile, but talking unrecognised amongst those around him. Inconspicuous I’m surprised he isn’t spotted, or greeted. But I suppose most of those wetting themselves at the time hadn’t even heard of Italia ‘90, let alone Paul Parker. We know him though.
He’s a bit like Denis Irwin really. Got on with his job. Enjoyed the glory, and no doubt the wealth, but never lost sight of who he really was. A normal, decent down to earth guy. The likes of Parker, Irwin, Pallister; David May even, should never be forgotten. Just because they didn’t grab the headlines doesn’t negate their huge impact on United. Without the quiet men - without these honest Joes - we wouldn’t have had the glory times that will now never be taken away from them, or us.
That side of 1994 had flair, power, goals and Cantona of course. But it was that back four with Schmeichel behind it that kept things together. And the more players you have like Irwin and Parker, the more welcome it should be.

the interview

We began by talking about his work for mutv.
PP: To be honest when I was a kid I was a Spurs fan, but once I started playing football I didn't really support anybody. The only team I look for other than United is QPR. But I sit on MUTV, and I love United. I can't do a Clayton Blackmore. You know when United get beat and then start blaming the grass and the shape of the ball. If you support them and you love Manchester United - you tell the truth.
Parker was never a real fan of Ruud...
PP: I've never - never ever, and never will be - a fan of Ruud van Nistelrooy. I can't stand lazy players.
RN: Funnily enough, a reader said he met you in Milan after the AC Milan game and you said we should cash in on Ruud then and go for Torres, so you were predicting over a year ago...
PP: It's about appetite. A year ago all he was bothered about was making this World Cup and finishing the season in the golden boot position. That's what he's got the hump about - he couldn't win that Golden Boot. Ruud Van Nistelrooy will not score goals now he's left. I don't think he can, I don't think he can make a goal.
RN: Why, because he's given his all for United, or that's the type of player you think he's always been?
PP: That's the type of player he is. I think he's gone to that level where he needed a change. His appetite had gone and he needed a new beginning to start again but I still don't think he'll go and score the amount of goals he scored for United. The days of doing that have gone for him.
RN: When the bust up happened from the League Cup Final onwards with Ruud, say when Ince and Kanchelskis were off during your time, how do the players respond when there's uneasiness in the dressing room?
PP: You get on with it. In my time at United there were a few bust-ups with players going, and players were unhappy because they were not playing but you got on it with it because you're not bothered about it. It didn't interfere with you, you never got involved. To be honest those players kept their own business to themselves, they never involved us. It happens. Ruud's biggest problem was he still couldn't accept - or couldn't see why - he wasn't playing a League Cup Final. But if he'd have opened his eyes he would have seen. How could the manager leave out someone like Saha who scored all the goals to get them there, and was playing well. Now you hate being left out, but you have to be honest and have a look. And if someone is playing well in front of you, as I had Gary Neville playing well in front of me, I had to somehow accept that there is no point in me going knocking on the Boss’ door as he'll hit me with that. And the truth would hit me even more even though I knew it, so I accepted it.
RN: You mention your injury at the end of the Double winning season but that you didn't get it seen to until the following November (“But I carried on until November of the next season, knowing the ankle wasn’t right. By then it was too late. I ruptured it again when I came back and I was never the same player.”). I didn't realise how serious it was that May?
PP: I knew in myself, in my own heart that I'd lost major strengths in my game. With the ankle it affected me, in my running, my twisting and turning and I think mentally - my jumping, because I always jumped off my left foot, it's my standing leg so it's my strong side so I jumped off of that and obviously landed on my other leg - and those little things were in my mind. And I just don't think I mentally really recovered from it.
RN: Why did you wait until after the Barcelona game that November, why not during the summer of ‘94, was it Fergie?
PP: I was being asked to play because of the three foreigner rule in the Champions League. If that situation could happen again I would say: ‘Sorry boss, I need to get this done, because of my long term career’. But when you're in the position I was in. Maybe it being Manchester United and the fact that I wanted to play in every single game. After just winning the Double I wanted to be involved. There is nothing worse than being on the side watching Manchester United win games, because you start feeling like a spare leg. So it was down to me more than anything. People have tried to put words into my mouth that the Gaffer forced me to play. He asked me to play. And me with my ego and my willingness and wanting to play for Manchester United, I kept playing when in theory if I had have stopped, had the operation, then I think my career would have been a bit longer.
RN: You mention David May coming in and not settling in, it was 2 years until Gary Nev really came in there. Did they ask you for advice about the right back role?
PP: No. Players who come and play for Manchester United - in theory they might go and ask the manager and coaches - but they very rarely come and ask another player because you are deemed as good enough already. It's as simple as that. When the Boss put Gary Neville in, he deemed Gary Neville ready to be Manchester United's full back. When he bought David May, he saw at some point David May was going to be a Manchester United defender.
RN: Up until that injury you'd hardly missed a game, in the Double season you only missed 3 league games, it must have been upsetting to know it wasn't your time (age wise) to end at United but it was happening?
PP: Oh it was. That's the thing that made it harder for me as well. After those two years and that success 4 over those two seasons that is what kept me going - that's why you don't want to miss out on situations like that, those good times are great and you don't want to miss out on them. But my ego got ahold of me and I should have stopped but I couldn't do it. And there were a lot of players like that in my time, a lot of players were playing with injuries while in today's football, when one of the players get twinges, they stop. But me, I wanted to play. Maybe that I was on appearance money plus the win bonus was always a good thing for me then as well. But now there's not those added bonuses anymore, you're getting this, you're getting that, win, lose or draw, injury or no injury, you're getting paid that. While I was playing it wasn't the case.
RN: You mention when Spurs were after you before you joined us, offering more money than United did. In previous interviews with players we've conducted like Whiteside and Stuart Pearson, they’ve confirmed United weren't the biggest payers, it's bizarre to think that Spurs pay out more than us?
PP: But maybe Spurs feel they had to, to try and get to the level of Manchester United. United have got to where they are, just by the fact that players come here and they come and play with their hearts because they want to represent that club. I was a Spurs fan as such. I turned down Spurs to play for Manchester United. If they hadn't have come in, I would never have left London.
RN: It says in the book that Terry Venables says to you, ‘you won't come back’, when you said you were having talks with Fergie...
PP: I think he knew it. He's obviously been there. I'd played at Old Trafford previously for QPR. I knew it as a player but he obviously knew it as a club. The way the club does things. The way the club sees itself and everything. I think he knew in his own mind that I would have gone there and wanted to play for Manchester United. And he was 100% right. The moment I drove up there and saw all those cars. When they used to park at the front, along Sir Matt Busby Way, outside where the club shop is now, there used to be all parking. I assumed that there was a game going on. It wasn't - it was people there, as the Boss said to me the day I signed, ‘they come and watch the grass grow’. Once I came I knew I wanted to be there. If it had been about money I wouldn't have signed. And I've got no regrets at all because what I have got is a (trophy) cabinet. And I've got memories. If people want to come into my house, when people come in sometimes they want to stand there and have a look at things. What I did was the right decision because if it wasn't, maybe I could bring people in and maybe show them a bank book, a cheque book. My idea when I started playing football was about winning things, playing for the best team, going as high as possible. Now I could have maybe have played for England. But playing for England AND Manchester United? I don't think you can get much higher than that. People could maybe contest it and talk about Liverpool. But in my eyes I played for the two biggest names that any player in this country can do.
RN: And were part of the success...
PP: That's right. That was the icing on the cake, winning those things. I look at playing in Cup Finals but one of the best boxes you can ever tick is to win a Championship. To go and do it again was an achievement.
RN: That ‘93/94 side. I know we won the Treble but if you ask certain United fans, they can reel the names off, that was the team...
PP: A lot of people say that to me. I get stopped all the time walking to the ground and people introducing me to their kids and they say it, but you bite your tongue because you don't want to say anything like it, because that's not me. I'm not that way. I don't like to say: ‘yeah, you're right', because people have got their own opinions. If you ask any boy of maybe 24/25 he's going to say the best team ever was the Treble winning side because they won the Treble. Now you speak to older people who watched the season before in ‘93, when we won the first Premiership and then saw the Double, they would have seen similar players, a similar side, bar one or two changes, but they saw an even more hungrier side which you don't generally see. It was even more hungrier and so difficult to play against because it wasn't so much about great skills, though we had players of great ability, but everybody had a hunger, and everybody would make a tackle and nobody would shirk responsibility.
RN: It was Norwich first game of that Double season, we came out and won 2-0 and I just thought we mean business here. Was it pre-meditated, making sure it wasn't a one off?
PP: It was the manager. The manager has got that mentality. The manager went out and all the players he bought in, or looks to bring in, are players he believes are not only happy winning things once, they want to do it again and again. And you look at the players Manchester United have had playing for them over the years, namely the Giggys, the Roy Keanes, the Scholseys, the Gary Nevilles, the Denis Irwins. All the players haven't just come there and won things once, they've gone and done it again. All his players in theory are willing to have a hunger, not just to be happy doing it once and sitting back on laurels like a lot of other clubs do, he wanted the whole club to be seen as a club that wants to keep doing it again and again and again.
RN: After we lost the league to Leeds. That day at Liverpool, I have to admit I walked away just thinking: ‘I'll never see United win the league’. You mention the belief, did you really think we'd come back and do it?
PP: It's not one of those things where I'd want to come out and say we talked about it, because I think I'd be making it up. It was just everyone in their own heads knew we gave it away. We lost it that year. Leeds didn't win it. Manchester United lost it. We were the best team by far that season but what we didn't have at the end of it - we were struggling to score goals because teams stopped us playing.
In the end the Boss knew that and fixed that problem by going out the November the following season and bringing in an Eric Cantona. He didn't panic during the summer, and try and get someone in a quick fix. He knew he had enough there to keep going but he knew somewhere along the line he had to try and change it but add the right player. And that's exactly what he went and did. It was easy to panic and think we need this and we need that because of what happened at the tail end of the 1991/92 season. But he didn't panic. And the following season he went out and he got a Roy Keane to add something different in midfield because he knew he had an ageing Bryan Robson and he knew he needed a change and he went out and did that. And that's the way he's dealt all the way along.
There's a lot of people who keep looking at what he's done to certain players when he's let them go but what he does has been proven right the way he's gone about it. People go on and whinge about it - there's always an issue when top players leave. The reason why there's always an issue when top players leave is because they don’t want to go. Because they know how good the club is, that's why they kick off. And in my opinion the Boss loves that because he knows he had the right animal at the club at the right time because that person does not want to leave. If someone goes out quietly and accepts it he might just see that as thinking: ‘Oh well, it was too mentally hard for him, couldn't handle it’.
RN: We know how the players react when we won the league - you're going to have a good time. But the summer we lost the league. What did you do, were you down the whole time? We as fans were gutted?
PP: I was gutted. Because I felt I didn't do enough. Because at the end of the season I had a hamstring problem so I missed out and couldn't pull my weight towards the end when maybe I felt I could have done something, even just to stop a goal going in, maybe nick a point somewhere along the line. I think it was embarrassing. Especially losing it to Leeds as well. I suddenly got into it, being up there I realised the mentality of the supporters about Leeds, City and Liverpool. You just know they are games that every United fan wants to win not lose. I realised that. The thing that made it worse for me was sitting there watching Norman Whiteside's testimonial against Everton. Knowing it was such a poor attendance for such a great man, who was a great player for Manchester United. When knowing that if we'd have won the league he would have got what he deserved. It was such a poor turn out for him and as a team, in theory, we let him down. People might have stayed away because they were so hurt. People were hurting inside for a long time.
RN: Neil Webb became a bit of a scapegoat at that Forest game...but it wasn't one player walking off slowly as a sub that cost us, we should have won the game before then?
PP: We should have won that. It's easy for a player to come out and say I was made a scapegoat but all it 4 is, is frustrated people picking on something they see and other people jumping on the back of it, ignorance more than anything. Unless that one person is out there being lazy and not giving everything... If someone is out there constantly giving the ball away but if he's still looking for the ball, still being brave and wants it even though he's not having a good day, then you've got to hold your hands up to him and say at least he's having a go, he's not hiding. But you can't come out and say you're being ridiculed, or made a scapegoat, because collectively it's a team game and you can't pick on individuals unless they are hiding or they are being lazy.
RN: You mention in the book the camaraderie between the lads, do you think that's lacking for today's team?
PP: It's definitely gone out of today's football. The mentality is that footballers can't drink or can't socialise. You can do. You're human. But it's about doing it right, and doing it at the right times, when you've got 3/4 days before a game, you can do it, go and sit down and get together. It's not about going out and getting drunk and falling all over the place. It's about getting together and having a drink. Not being there until 1am or 2am in the morning but socialising and doing your own thing after if you want. I think that's lacking out of the game now. It's more about being in the right bar, being seen in the right bar, being with the right people, being with the people who you are going to get your photo with. Sitting with a top dj, sitting with a top actor. When before... I was happy just sitting next to my mates. If I was out somewhere, maybe sitting there with Denis Irwin next to me and having a drink and a chat with Denis. That was good enough for me. I didn't need the big name next to me to think ‘great’.
RN: It was pretty unique, a lot of you really were mates?
PP: We all got on very, very well. I look at it today. To talk about it right now (during the WC). I'm fed up of picking up a paper and seeing England footballers wives in the paper. I'm totally fed up with it. At the end of the day those men are out there to work. I was away from home during that 1990 World Cup for a month. A month with the players. There were no wives. They didn't come out until the Semi Final. It wasn't a case of ‘we want them out here’. Now it's all about their wives going out and it's getting on my nerves! I'd like to think who is paying for all this, is it the FA forking the money when those players should be there concentrating on playing football. And the manager has given them two days to be with their wives. Well, sorry, after a poor performance, two days off? They should be there reflecting. They get enough time. They are not 9am-5pm workers. But anyway, we're digressing!...
Read part 2 of the interview next issue. PAUL PARKER: TACKLES LIKE A FERRET With Pat Symes (Know the Score books), is out now.

Paul Parker's new book

RN 129 Out October 17th.
RN 128. Out September 17th.

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