Manchester United legend Gary Pallister opened up to Betting Sites about the impact of the devastating 7-0 defeat to Liverpool, Bruno Fernandes failing to act like a Man Utd captain and why signing Harry Kane from Tottenham could be a realistic proposition this summer in a wide ranging interview.
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Key stories from the interview below + link to the full transcript:
- Bruno Fernandes quit during Liverpool demolition
- Casemiro is Man Utd captain in waiting
- Fed up Harry Kane should quit Spurs and sign for Man Utd
- Rashford should sign new contract because grass won’t be greener at PSG
- Antony, Luke Shaw, De Gea, Martinez slammed for dismal performances
- Harry Maguire’s uncertain future discussed
Q: Losing 7-0 to Liverpool is Manchester United’s worst ever PL defeat, has that brought Ten Hag back and the club back down to earth?
Gary Pallister: “Yeah, I don’t think you can get away from that. This is still the biggest fixture for Man Utd players and fans but to lose in the manner that we lost is going to sting. Ten Hag looked a bit nonplussed about how his team could capitulate in the way that they did, given all the plaudits that they’ve had of late.
“To go there and surrender… It’s like seeing the old habits of last season resurface. We didn’t have the belief or the fight to go there and scrap for a result. There were players on that pitch yesterday that didn’t respond and fight or maybe realise what that game means to the fans. It was a hard watch and I didn’t expect it. It’s not acceptable. That first half we started really well. We dealt with the pressure and had chances but then gave away a sloppy goal. I expected them to come out in the second half and really have a go at them but it didn’t happen and after that it was almost a surrender.”
“I’ve been there. In my third game for United we lost 5-1 to Manchester City and you feel highly embarrassed and can’t wait for the next game to put it right but you have to live with that memory. I never lost another derby but I never stopped copping it for that result until we beat the 5-0 at Old Trafford in 1994/95 that I could finally fire back.”
Q: Jurgen Klopp labelled Man Utd a winning machine in the build up, do you think there was an element of them believing their own hype?
GP: “I think they’ve earned the right to get the plaudits that Klopp gave them because even though they’ve not always been at their best but they’ve managed to find a way to win. That’s the spirit that Ten Hag has brought to the club. There’s more fight from United this season than for quite a while and the fans have responded to that. Finally we have a team that can compete but that’s a huge spanner in the works yesterday. That’s probably finished the title aspirations yesterday but we’ve won a cup, and are still in Europe and the FA Cup.
“But there’s no doubt what happened yesterday is not a small blip, it’s a major blip and it’s now going to be interesting to see how these players respond on Thursday. They’ve got a big game against a Betis side that drew with Real Madrid at the weekend. So they’re no mugs. That’s going to be a tough battle as well. The players probably feel like they owe the fans something now.”
Q: Will there be a significant psychological impact on the players such was the scale of the defeat?
GP: “We’ll find out on Thursday. The games come thick and fast when you’re fighting on all fronts like United are. You don’t have much time for rest and yes it’s not just the physical it’s the mental aspect of things as well, especially after conceding seven. They’re favourites to win the Europa League so they have to respond in what’s a massive game. They have to show the fans it was just a quirk because don’t forget the rest of the season has been pretty good.
“You’re looking for leaders on the pitch, people to stand up and scrap but they did it in the wrong way yesterday. There was a lot of petulance on the pitch, players testing the referee and Bruno could possibly have been sent off. I understand the frustration because it’s a humiliation at the hands of your arch enemies. But it’s got to be dealt with in the right way.
“It will be interesting to see what Ten Hag actually says and does in the lead up to the next game. I remember him running the team as a punishment after a defeat earlier this season because they didn’t run on the pitch and he joined in.”
Q: Lisandro Martinez and Bruno Fernandes are taking a lot of flack on social media. Which players put in the most disappointing performances on the day?
GP: “You can point the finger at a lot of players yesterday. Martinez has been superb for Man Utd and brought a bit of backbone to the team but Mo Salah on his day can embarrass anybody. We had a lot of players who weren’t at the races in the second half. To lose 6-0 in the second half is unforgivable. Where was the fight? Where was the leadership and determination to stop haemorrhaging goals like they did?
“I’m not going to slaughter Martinez because he’s been superb more often than not but he and Varane didn’t cover themselves in glory. David De Gea will be disappointed with some of the goals. Luke Shaw who’s been incredible this season had one of his worst games of the season. Casemiro giving the ball away. Bruno was not running back, he just quit on the ball at one stage. That was endemic of what was going on last year and Ten Hag has tried to change the mentality and to a large extent he’s done that but that we’ll have to live with that 7-0 scoreline and move on because one bad game doesn’t make you a bad team.”
Q: Gary Neville had some harsh words for Bruno Fernandes in the aftermath, do you see Ten Hag replacing him as captain after how he acted?
GP: “I think Casemiro is a captain in waiting. I think everyone’s been impressed with the way he’s come in with the winning mentality that he’s brought from Real Madrid. Bruno he’s been a magnificent buy for Man Utd but yesterday it didn’t look good. Whether he really was asking to be brought off by the manager, that should never happen on a football pitch especially when you’re the captain.
“The captaincy is one of the problems that Man Utd have had over a number of years now. I don’t think they’ve had leaders. When I was at the club we were fortunate to have the likes of Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane and Paul Ince. These guys were warriors on a football pitch. Bruno is different to that, as is Harry Maguire. I don’t think they’ve got that warrior mentality.”
Q: Was that second half performance even more humiliating than conceding four in the first half to Brentford back in August?
GP: “I remember losing 6-1 to the Arsenal Invincibles for Middlesbrough when they had Henry and Kanu up front and we capitulated so I’ve been on the end of it and it’s not nice. Liverpool hit the heights yesterday and it leaves you scratching your head as to why they’ve been so poor this season. Where’s that form been all season? I’m sure Jurgen’s asking that. But I think the Brentford game yes in a way but you don’t expect to get beat seven no matter what. In the form that we were in, it’s going to leave a lot of people looking in the mirror including the manager.”
Q: If you’d been playing yesterday what would you have been telling Dalot and Martinez at the start of that second half after conceding that second goal so quickly?
GP: “You’re still in the game at 2-0 down you only need one goal to make them nervous. But we were completely outplayed in that second half. And that’s the worst point is that we looked like the team that surrendered at Brentford because we thought we were past that. It came out of the blue and it shocked everybody. Getting beaten at Brentford was too much for fans to bear at the time but now it’s Liverpool it hurts that much more.”
Q: Is top four still nailed on for United despite Liverpool building momentum or do they need to be wary of complacency creeping in?
GP: “I don’t think there’s any risk of complacency but it’s been tight up there for quite a while. After the start of the season we weren’t even thinking about Champions League qualification. But we’re in that strong position now. Newcastle are up there but are looking a bit toothless. There seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding Tottenham at the minute. Conte doesn’t seem to be enjoying life. You got the situation around Harry Kane. Liverpool are certainly capable of going on a good run but it’s very open. We’ve got a point to prove after yesterday. Everything was going swimmingly until yesterday.”
Q: Does the 7-0 result show that Man Utd don’t have the squad to be competing on all fronts as they currently are?
GP: “I’m sure Ten Hag would like to add to the squad, as all managers would. Is the squad big enough for Manchester United at the moment? I’d suggest maybe not. But it’s a work in progress. Ten Hag has only been there eight months, so we haven’t seen the completion of his work. I think this summer we’ll see United heavily involved in the transfer market. The centre forward position is still an area of concern. He’ll be looking to strengthen there and bring more quality through. We’ve got some exciting young players that have come through like Garnacho but there’s definitely still more quality needed.”
Q: Antony was hammered by certain pundits for his lack of defensive work and leaving Dalot exposed. Is that valid criticism?
GP: “Wingers are generally like that. I remember Andrei Kanchelskis turning up and being like ‘What do you mean track back?’. This is the Premier League mate, this is what we expect but it’s kind of foreign to them. I don’t know exactly what role Antony played at Ajax but he certainly has to track back and help his full-back out here. I think in general he’s got a good work rate, he doesn’t get bullied easily. He’s got fight in him but I’d like to see more. He needs to use his right foot more and get to the dead-ball line and put a cross in because everyone knows he wants to cut in onto his left and get a shot off. I’m not going to point the finger at one individual because you’re in it together and frankly they all looked bewildered. The fans didn’t see it coming, neither did the manager or the players. The only person who seemingly did was Graeme Sounness!”
Q: Should expectations at United be higher than they are given that their net spend is almost double that of Man City’s over the past six years?
GP: “There’s always expectations at Manchester United. The players have to learn to live with it. Manchester City have been a winning machine for a number of years and have possibly the best manager in the world at the helm. But they’re in a hell of a scrap with Arsenal for the title now. Before I got to United they had gone 26 years without winning the title. Just because you’ve got money doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win anything. The worrying aspect from yesterday was the lack of fight from the players.”
Q: Have United become over reliant on Marcus Rashford’s goals?
GP: “It would appear that way because we haven’t got a centre-forward who is going to get us 20 goals a season. Marcus enjoys coming off the left-hand side. He’s been put through the middle on occasion and has still delivered but I think he’s best on the left. Once Cristiano left in November they brought Weghourst in to help fill that role but he’s only scored once. I think Martial would be playing if he was fit because he had a good pre-season. But now we can’t seem to get him on the pitch which has been a body blow because he offers a bit more. We need to find a forward who is going to give us minutes and goals and I’m sure the manager is working on it right now.”
Q: Does Rashford owe it to the club to sign a new contract?
GP: “He’s put himself in a position where there’s a lot of European clubs looking at him. He’s been in his best form for a few years this season. Yes last season was a struggle for him but he’s owned it and gone away and worked in the close season to get fitter and stronger and you can see that in his game. He’s sorted his life out away from football because perhaps there was too much going on which muddied the water. I wouldn’t say he owes it to the club but every Man Utd fan wants to see him stay. My gut feeling is that he will sign but if he’s thinking otherwise I’d say be careful, because the grass isn’t always greener.”
Q: Is Harry Kane a legitimate option for United to sign in the summer?
GP: “Yeah I think Harry Kane fits the bill. He’ll guarantee you 20 plus goals per season. It would be interesting to know what kind of transfer fee Tottenham would be hoping to get if they were to consider selling him. I’m sure he’s fed up. A player of his ability not to have any trophies in his cabinet at this stage of his career. He tried to force a move away two seasons ago and apparently had the owner’s word of honour that he would let him go if he ever asked to leave. I’m sure it rankles that he went back on that. My gut feeling is that he will want out this summer. Tottenham look like Man Utd did last season. Occasional good results but then getting beat off whoever. The conjecture about the manager doesn’t help either. He’s turning 30 soon and that’s a big moment for a player because you realise you’re coming to the back end of your career.”
Q: What does the future hold for Harry Maguire at Man Utd?
GP: “It’s a tough situation. He’s saying all the right things as captain of the club and says the manager has told him he’s still a big part of the squad. He’s ready whenever called upon but it’s a different mentality these days it is a squad game. He did well in the Euros and World Cup for England and it’s tough when people are shooting you down. I had it in my time and you feel very isolated. It’s been a tough year but I don’t know who he feels about not being involved in the big games. After just seeing his side concede seven maybe he’ll be feeling he’ll get a chance on Thursday now. He’s got Lindelof there as well but it’s plain to see Martinez and Varane ‘silk and steel’ are his first choice so it leaves Maguire in with a big choice to make this summer.”
Q: What’s your take on the title race?
GP: “Arsenal look like they’re getting the breaks don’t they? Two-nil down and scoring in the 97th minute can really give a team belief. They’ve got to go to Anfield which will be tough if they play like they did against Man Utd l but that depends which Liverpool turn up on the day. I’ve been waiting for that bounce back all season from Liverpool. But Mikel Arteta has done wonders with this Arsenal side. They’ve got energy, they’ve got ability, they’ve got wide players that are a real threat and this is all without Gabriel Jesus since the World Cup. He was instrumental in their early season form so that will add fuel to the fire for the run in. They’ve got a real hunger about them.
“Arteta’s made some big decisions like shipping Aubameyang and Ozil out but he’s been proved bang on the money with them. There were a lot of doubters at that time, people calling for his head last season and now look at him. I’m still surprised by some of his antics on the touchline, maybe he needs to take a chill pill sometimes! But that’s football, it’s the passion it evokes in people. They’re in with a real shout but they’ve got to go to Man City on the way and that’s where the title could be won or lost.”