Paul Parker

  • Margaret Thatcher deserves a minute’s silence

    Being a black footballer in the 1980s amid the era of Margaret Thatcher's rule was very difficult. Having to travel north and play was very difficult because of the abuse you got.

    The football at the time was British and very physical. It was all about being very fit.

    Training was all about cross-country running and pumping weights; things that are probably viewed as wrong now.

    Football was all about blood, sweat and tears. If you went down injured back then and rolled around on the ground, your manager would slaughter you.

    If you went down with a broken leg, the coaching staff would go easy

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  • Sunderland will become a laughing stock under Di Canio

    Sunderland appointing Paolo Di Canio as manager is very much a case of madness meets madness, and the club are likely to end up as a laughing stock as a result.

    The club's owner Ellis Short has taken an extraordinary gamble in replacing the experienced and widely respected Martin O’Neill with an attention seeker looking to make everything about him.

    Short has decided to put the club's immediate future in the hands of an inexperienced and volatile coach whose snap judgements and emotional decisions have been laughable in his managerial career to date.

    Hopefully for Sunderland's sake, Di Canio

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  • Boring England could be headed for the play-offs

    It's a do-or-die game against Montenegro. If England lose tonight, people will be down.

    We'll be headed for the play-offs and they are not easy any more: we could be playing against Spain, or France - depending on how that group works out - and there's also Portugal.

    Good, good sides rarely lose over two legs, as we've just seen with Barcelona against Milan. The game will affect the mood of the country: we still can't write off Poland, and we've got to play Ukraine again as well.

    These days we shouldn't have expectations of beating nations such as these. Many of their players play in top sides

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  • Owen should never have left Liverpool

    Michael Owen's decision to retire is a natural end to his career, but it should have come sooner.

    He was virtually in retirement when he went to Manchester United four years ago. His decision to join Stoke City was never going to be a good fit.

    Never in a million years was moving to Stoke going to be a good idea. One because he doesn't fit their kind of football, two because he isn't tall enough for them and three being the other reason that he is never fit enough to play consistently.

    In theory, people are going to be like me in thinking that he was already in semi-retirement over the past

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  • Worries over Wilshere

    Jack Wilshere is injured againJack Wilshere’s latest injury blow worries me intensely. At least it’s the different ankle, but given his problems in the past you never know if it’s an over-compensation issue.

    If Wilshere’s latest injury is just a knock, then fine, these things happen.

    But if it’s a compensation injury you have a problem as when you come back from a long injury like he did, you can change your posture and running style.

    This can cause muscle and ligament issues as your body adjusts, and those kinds of problems recur.

    Wilshere clearly has the potential, but there hasn’t yet been anything that hints to me that

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  • How Rafael can stop Ronaldo

    Rafael might just have to play a perfect game tonight if Manchester United are to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. Trying to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet is the biggest test you can get as a right-back.

    Even if you forget the physical task that awaits the Brazilian, mentally it is also a huge challenge in what is an extremely high-pressure game. There is a major onus on him to perform for Manchester United after having a tough time of things in the first leg in Madrid.

    I think if Rafael v Ronaldo comes down to pace and power, then there is only one winner. The one thing Rafael must

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  • Beckham circus might work against PSG

    David Beckham's debut for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday was a huge media event and he could make his first start against Marseille, again, on Wednesday in the cup. However, I can't help but feel his arrival at the club could be an unnecessary diversion at a crucial point in the season.

    Joey Barton said Marseille's players were happy to hear Beckham had signed for PSG as it could prove to be a deal that distracts the leaders from the task at hand, and you certainly can't rule that out as a possibility. Look at Newcastle when they signed Faustino Asprilla halfway through the 1995-96 season. It

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  • Fixture fiddling taking buzz out of game

    The Champions League is more about the 'league'

    The way the Champions League knockout stage is organised is taking the buzz out of big European nights, and indicates a move to a continental super league.

    The last 16 has been spread out over a month, with the first and second legs broken up over a fortnight each. You get two games on a Tuesday, two on a Wednesday, and a week before the other two matches are played. Then they do it all over again.

    And when you consider how long the group stages go on for – and the sprawling mess that is the Europa League – everything points to the end-game: a season-long European Premier League and

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  • Juventus far too strong for Celtic

    Celtic have done fantastically well to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, but if you were to ask me if they have any chance of causing an upset against Juventus I'd have to be honest and say - no, not really.

    If you look at Juventus' form over the last few seasons you will see that they have barely lost a match. They are well organised and are the trend-setters in an Italian league that is starting to rise again.

    Defensively they look like they did in their glory days, and in Andrea Pirlo they have one of the best midfield players in the world – a man who AC Milan got rid of far too

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  • Singapore must tackle gambling epidemic

    I can't say I was surprised when I heard that Europol's match-fixing investigation centred on a cartel in Singapore.

    I have been living in Singapore for a couple of years because I work for TV out here.

    In many ways it's a great place to live, but I'm afraid the gambling culture is a massive problem.

    For many people, football is a bit like horse racing in the UK - it's just a vehicle for betting.

    People out here love to wager - they favour handicap betting where one team gets a head start. It's absolutely huge.

    And unfortunately in Singapore, and throughout South-East Asia, there's not a lot

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