Paul Parker - Jurgen Klopp must handle new signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies with care
Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker looked back on his past experiences with Andy Cole and William Prunier to point out the pitfalls of winter signings, and how Liverpool can make the best use of their two new central defenders who have arrived in difficult circumstances this January transfer window.
Paul Parker believes Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has to take care of Deadline Day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies if his side are to mount a renewed challenge for the Premier League.
At United there were two standout winter arrivals in my time at Old Trafford: William Prunier and Andy Cole.
I played with Prunier in that 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane, but it just wasn’t real. People just don’t believe what happened when we discuss it. Cole’s time with the club showed what’s more likely to happen to Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, and how Jurgen Klopp can make sure they settle in as quickly as possible.
When Cole came to United, we already had our own way of playing. At Newcastle United, they had theirs. He was used to running in behind, and there were always crosses coming in from the wings for him to attack. The ball was in front of him. But when he came with us he had to change, because we’d have to play the ball into feet and work from that, and from that he was able to give back to the team.
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I think Cole was clear that there were times that he was struggling to fit in. But what happened was that the boss didn’t just give up - there was a long-term plan to get Cole in and get him buzzing in our side. By signing for United it opened him up to improving his game. He was respected more as a player when he was able to show everyone that there were was more to his game - and he was helped by the fact he knew he wasn’t the finished article when he arrived. Kabak and Davies will have to be helped through and will have to embrace a new way of doing things, and be prepared to learn in order to improve. They're at a big club too now, and they must be open to showing there is more to them.
How well you adjust, I think, depends on the individual. It’s definitely possible to step up from the lower divisions and make a success of it. I came from two divisions down to join QPR. More recently, Dele Alli joined Spurs from League One. I think what’s most important for Davies is that Klopp doesn’t use his move up as an excuse not to play him.
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Klopp needs to be brave enough to put him in straight away - that’s how you learn. You learn when you’re on the job, and he might be raw but it will do him no good to be stuck playing inconsistently in the under-23s. In the first team he’ll have experienced players around him, and he’s used to regular football, so he can’t miss out. That means it’s up to his boss to help him with any personal troubles he might have as he adjusts.
Klopp will also need to be on hand for Kabak. He’s come from another country and you don’t know how many, if any, of his family are going to make the journey with him. He shouldn't be left out of the team for too long. If players come from abroad without friends and family then it’s best they are allowed to play and feel like they’re part of a team.
The way Liverpool looked against West Ham, I don’t think anyone can write them off. They applied themselves well, and after beating Spurs I think they might have turned a corner. With some of their young players coming through, then they have added some depth, and perhaps some more belief. If Jordan Henderson can come good again they could be a dangerous side for the second half of the season.
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores their side's second goal past Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at London Stadium on January 31, 2021 in London, England
Image credit: Getty Images
If you look at the way Liverpool are, with their strengths and weaknesses, they have got more about them than United have. In the transfer window, United needed to add to their front line. They might get away with it defensively this season, but they need more for Bruno Fernandes to play off. Another experienced player alongside Edinson Cavani, someone who would run to open up the pitch rather than wait for a pass, could have made the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester City are the favourites despite Liverpool’s transfer window. They’ve tightened up at the back, they’re physically and mentally more resilient. In the past they’ve crumbled against Liverpool, and I don’t think that will happen again - but we’ll find out soon.