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Name Ray Parlour
Spelling The Romford Pele
Gender Male
Ethnic English
Job English Footballer
Desc Ray Parlour, affectionately known as ‘The Romford Pele’, embodied the transformation Arsenal underwent under Arsene Wenger. Parlour had been expected to be one of the first names out the door under the Frenchman but instead stayed on to vastly improve as a player

Affiliation

Org xxxx National Team
Club as Player Arsenal FC

2015 08 20 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on Thierry Henry] Character-wise, Thierry Henry was a winner, you could tell that straight away. But he had everything on the ball as well, he had skill, trickery, he could go past a player, and he had an eye for goal

2015 08 21 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on Thierry Henry] He always had so much talent but he improved so much. He was an athlete as well – 6’1, 6’2 but he could run once he got into his stride. He was an absolutely fantastic player. But his finishing – that was his main strength

2016 02 14 Retrieve

[On Gianfranco Zola] Little Franco was [….] a brilliant No.10 who would open teams up with a simple but deadly pass

2016 02 18 Retrieve

[Quotes on Paul Gascoigne] We all loved Gazza and there haven’t been many finer English players in my lifetime. No one dropped their shoulder like Gazza

2020 02 18 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour explains why Alexandre Lacazette must play after Eddie Nketiah experiment fails] He [Eddie] struggled first half, holding the ball up, which is what Lacazette does so well. He brings other people into play. Second half he was better and had a couple of opportunities for himself. That’s where managers have to make big decisions, but at least he’s showing he will give the youngsters a go

[Arteta has also said that it’s up to both strikers to prove themselves in training] The message is very clear. Whoever trains like they do and I see they have the abilities, qualities and the hunger to perform like he has done today, he’s got a chance to play. Today I decided to play Eddie because he’s been training in a phenomenal way. I decided for him not to go on loan and to stay and I have to support that decision. Laca has been playing all the games with me, he hasn’t scored and I told him the decision today - why - and he accepted it really well. I said ‘you will come out and score a goal, he did and I am so pleased, not just for the goal but for the reaction of all his teammates and the staff because they showed how much they love him. And the reason why is because this guy works his balls off everyday

2020 02 18b Retrieve

[Parlour says Arsenal have to get Saka tied to new contract but feel-good factor is back] He [Nketiah] struggled a bit first half – holding the ball up, and that’s what Lacazette does so well. He holds the ball up and brings other players into play, while Eddie was a little bit of a struggle first half. Second half, he did much better, he had a couple of opportunities. That is where managers have to make big decisions. At least he is showing that he will give the youngsters a go.

Saka was excellent again on the left-hand side, he had another really good game. I think he has to get tied down now on a new contract. I think they are trying to organise it at the moment. At the moment Arsenal are 10th in the table, which isn’t good enough, but Lacazette’s goal and how the players celebrated, they knew he needed that. There are a lot of changes that need to be made at Arsenal but there is a feel-good factor again. I think the supporters are getting behind the team and suddenly they are thinking: next season, could we really have a go? I think fifth place is still wide open for quite a few clubs, so big game Sunday against Everton.

2020 02 21 Retrieve

[Former Gunners winger Ray Parlour is eager to see an extension put in place] I think Bukayo Saka has to get tied down now on a new contract. I think they are trying to organise it at the moment

2020 03 27 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour on how Dennis Bergkamp winding up Martin Keown led to Arsenal signing flop Igors Stepanovs] Arsene was so clever at identifying great players to come in, but there were one or two gambles that didn’t quite come off.

In the summer of 2000 a player turned up on trial at our pre-season tour. He was a tall centre-half. Now, Martin Keown was always worried about people coming in to steal his position. If we had a centre-half on trial, Martin would say he was useless. This big guy from Latvia, Igors Stepanovs, turned up. He was a unit, but seriously, he was not up to standard.

[He actually had one of the Premier League’s best-ever win ratios. Anyway, on with the story!] A few of us were on the bench watching as he played in this trial game. Stepanovs is out there and every single pass he made, the boys started applauding, just because we knew Martin would be getting a bit steamed up by it. Dennis Bergkamp was sitting behind Arsene and kept doling out these compliments about this defender – ‘Great header! Unbelievable tackle!’. Igors kicked this one ball 20 yards away from where it was meant to go but it still went to one of our players so we all stood up clapping.

Martin’s muttering: ‘He’s not that good.’ He started to point out where he missed a tackle or a header.

That night we went for dinner and laughed about it as we were only trying to wind Martin up. We all knew Igors was nowhere near the standards set by Tony Adams, Martin and Bouldy.

But Martin is such an easy target because he bites. Once someone bites it’s too tempting. Dennis seldom missed a trick because Martin would kick him every day in training. He always came out with a blinder to explain it to Dennis: ‘I’m just getting you ready for what you are going to face in the match.’

Martin was a great player, a great character, a great winner. I think we all cared so deeply. When we got back to the training ground at London Colney a week later we had a surprise though. Igors was sitting there.

I said: ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘They signed me,’ he said. ‘Four-year contract.’

Arsene didn’t know we were just trying to tease Martin. He just kept listening to us heaping praise on this player. And if Dennis Bergkamp stands up and says: ‘What a player’, Arsene would be entitled to take a bit of notice. I suppose it looked like a bargain at around £1m.

No disrespect to anyone from the lower leagues but Igors was a yard behind us on the pitch, it was like taking my brother to training.

The next thing we know we’ve got the biggest injury crisis we’ve ever had at centre-half. And the only fit centre-half we’ve got is Igors and who are we playing at the weekend? Man United at Old Trafford.

Going into the game our back four looked a bit dicey really. Oleg Luzhny, Gilles Grimandi, Igors and Ashley Cole, who had to go off at half-time.

Dwight Yorke ran us ragged. Seriously, it was humiliating. They scored the first goal and we managed to equalise. We thought: ‘OK, we’ll take that’. And then all of a sudden the goals started pouring in and we were 5-1 down by half-time

There is a massive walk to the tunnel at Old Trafford and you could see Arsene was fuming. He hardly every swore or shouted but he did that day. I remember doing the long walk to the tunnel alongside Dwight Yorke and he asked: ‘Where the hell did you get that centre-half from?’ ‘Look,’ I said. ‘It’s a long story … ‘. We sat down in the dressing room and it could’ve been 9-1 as David Seaman actually had a blinder in goal.

Arsene started letting off and he’s not a swearer, it just doesn’t suit him, and I’m really desperate to laugh. I’m making no eye contact and I could see Pat Rice in my peripheral vision sending me a look that said: ‘Don’t laugh. Whatever you do. Do. Not. Laugh

Arsene was going mad. And that was the only time, in the eight years I played under him, he went crazy at half-time. He was always focused on being calm, recovering and keeping concentrated on what we needed to do. We lost 6-1 and poor Igors barely played again

2020 05 08 Retrieve

[Former Arsenal stars Ray Parlour agree that Arsene Wenger should be given a statue outside the Emirates Stadium] That’s why he deserves a statue. He’s the one who created the Emirates, if you like. He’s the one who had that focus to say Highbury, as much as we all loved it, was not big enough.

Could he have done that? Wenger loved the day-to-day; the training; the matches

2020 06 05 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Arsenal won’t sell Tierney, he’s an exciting talent] Well, he would be playing Champions League football next season if he did move to Leicester, but I’d be amazed if Arsenal let him go. What I’ve seen of him when he’s played, he looks a very exciting player. His age as well will come into it; he’s only a young lad. I would definitely keep him, and once he’s fit give him a run in the team and have a look at him properly.

The night at West Ham away was a hard night for me. I knew I had dislocated my shoulder in the first 10, 15 minutes and straight away you know what you’ve done. Then another 10 minutes, I did the same kind of thing. I landed differently. It was a set piece and my arm just went into a position that wasn’t comfortable at all and dislocated. It was heartbreaking because in my head I knew I needed an operation. Three times in 30 minutes, nobody’s shoulder should be going like that. So in my head, I was like ‘that’s me out for another few months’. You know that and you know the devastation straight away. You can see it on my face. Being injured at the start of my Arsenal career was hard. Mentally, it was probably the toughest time of my life

2020 06 05b Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Arsenal will have no choice but to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if he refuses to sign a new contract] I think you’ve got to sell him if he doesn’t sign a contract, and then take the money and try to replace him. It’s really difficult to keep a player if he doesn’t want to stay. It’s a big decision to make, but I don’t know what sort of money you could get for him if he doesn’t want to stay. If you get a good fee for him then you have to try and go out and replace him. That is difficult, but it has happened at every single club when players come to the last year of their contract. I’m praying that he wants to stay and Arsenal can sign him on a new contract and he can be there for the next two or three years under [Mikel] Arteta. It all depends on the manager as well, if they get on, and also if he feels the club is going forward. That is the big decision the club have got to make, but hopefully he stays.

2020 06 08 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Arsenal have to spend big on a new No.10] The goals are not really spread around the team are they with Arsenal? You get Lacazette who can chip in with a few, Ozil probably doesn’t score enough for the position he plays. The midfield are very much more defensive minded, [Granit] Xhaka is not going to score you goals, [Lucas] Torreira’s not going to score you goals, they’ve lost [Aaron] Ramsey, who was the goalscorer from midfield. So, I look at an attacking midfielder who’s probably going to score you 10 goals a season, but you’re talking big money then, so spend.

I think they’ve got to try and keep most of their top talent, I’m talking about Aubameyang and people like that, if they’re going to have any chance of trying to get into the Champions League. I think a lot of it will be down to the last nine games of this season, I think they’ve still got a glimmer of hope that you never know which teams that are above them are going to come back and hit the ground running. If they [Arsenal] can come back and hit the ground running and get a good start to the season, obviously the Man City game is going to be very important, if they can get anything out of that game that will give them a lot of confidence going forward. Champions League football is so important for a lot of players these days so Aubameyang, if they can squeeze in there, might sign a new contract, I don’t know. If they don’t, then he might be on his way and suddenly you’ve got to replace a striker who scores all your goals

2020 06 21 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Arsenal always give teams a chance to beat them] Oh, absolutely shot

This was a game they had to win. Not a lot of people would’ve given them a chance against Manchester City in a normal league period, but going to Brighton, if you’re going to compete with teams at the top, everybody’s dream at Arsenal is to get back into the Champions League, but these are the sides you’ve got to beat

They got themselves in a good position by getting the opening goal but they always give teams a chance. That’s the problem with Arsenal at the moment

Fair play to Brighton, they took that chance and they scored two fantastic goals, especially the last one, it was a fantastic winner for Brighton, but the fans will be very much on their backs a little bit now because they demand more of the players, they demand wins, they demand getting closer to that top five

At the moment Arsenal are going backwards

2020 06 27 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour believes it’s time for Arsenal to take some risks in the transfer market in an attempt to get themselves back into contention for the Champions League] Maybe they have to take a few more risks which probably they don’t want to do but sometimes in football you’ve got to take a risk. Because if you can get the right players in, suddenly you can turn things around and turn the club around because you can compete again with the best. And that’s when you can attract big players in the Champions League

You’ve got to be clever, you’ve got to wheel and deal sometimes because Arsenal are not a club who are going to be competing with the likes of Manchester City [in the transfer market]. Not having Champions League football is a real burden on the financial situation, that’s why it’s so important to try and get back in it as quick as possible. They had a massive chance last year in the Europa League final, if they had won that. Now they have to find a way somehow, I don’t know what route they take to get back there, but we’ve seen what it’s done for Spurs and that’s what Arsenal have got to try and get back to. But it’s not as easy as you think, it’s not simple because you are competing against good teams, even teams like Wolves now who have improved so much. And what happens with Newcastle if the takeover goes through? They are going to come in and say we are going to have a go at the top four. So it really is difficult to get into the Champions League now.

[Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey is a target, but his £44 million ($54m) release clause could prove prohibitive, unless Arsenal raise some significant funds with some sales once the window open - something Parlour believes could happen] There are also some players who you would probably think they could do without. There are quite a few players whose contracts are running down. I don’t know what they will do with Lacazette. Nketiah is getting a chance now and he’s still a young lad. He’s still got to improve and get better, but Arteta might be saying ‘l like what I’m seeing in training from him and I know he will improve. So it will be interesting to see what he does with certain players. Whether Aubameyang stays I don’t know and obviously it’s important to sign Saka up to a long-term contract. He’s been excellent

It’s down to the club now recruitment wise. Arsenal have to get that right. They’ve brought Edu in, someone who has played in very good dressing rooms, he was part of the Invincibles and he knows what sort of characters you need if you are going to be successful as a team. That’s what his hardest job is now, finding those players who have got good characters that rub off on other players. That’s the hard bit, trying to find them.

2020 06 29 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Arsenal should consider using David Luiz in a midfield holding role] He makes too many mistakes, and at 33 he is not going to learn. You have to look a little bit higher than David Luiz. He could be a squad player and you could play him as a holding midfielder. He has got a range of passing and you know if you make a mistake there you have centre-halves behind you, that could be a role for him

2020 06 29b Retrieve

[Parlour believes greater ambition needs to be shown in a bid to break into the top four] Arsenal need to get back into the Champions League by spending more money and taking more of a gamble as a club. Arteta has done everything right so far, but now it is up to the club to back him. The lower you get and the more ambition the other teams get then it is going to be difficult for Arsenal to challenge again

2020 06 30 Retrieve

[Ray Parlour says Matteo Guendouzi must ‘toe the line’ to avoid throwing away his Arsenal career] He’s got to toe the line. He’s a very energetic player, a very good player. I think it’s a situation where Arteta now is stamping his authority, which is something you have to do as a manager. You have to get the respect of the players. Matteo has maybe stepped out of line and he’s left him out. I’ve always said do your talking on the pitch. As long as you are performing, you get away with certain incidents

I do like the way he plays, he’s got good energy, but it comes down to Arteta. I don’t see him every day in training, I don’t see if he’s a bit of a sulker, I just don’t know. Arteta now has got to get that out of him, see what makes him tick. He’s a young lad, he’s still learning and that’s what Arteta’s trying to get across to him

I still think he’s certainly part of his plans for now. He’s just trying to put people in line and show he’s the boss. He will get a lot of respect from the players if you say how it is to them individually. I know for a fact that Arteta is very good going round everyone and having a chat with them, trying to see their feelings and their characters. Maybe Matteo wasn’t right and that’s why he’s dropped him

2020 06 30b Retrieve

[No one is bigger than the club] Mikel will sit down with him and say, ‘we desperately want to keep you at the club’. But as a player, if he doesn’t want to stay and says he wants Champions League football, you’ve then got to make a big decision. No-one is bigger than the club, I know he is a very important player and I would love to see him stay, but the players have got the power now. They can put clubs in corners where they have to make big decisions about whether to keep them and let their contract run out like they did with Aaron Ramsey, or they say ‘how much can we get for him’ and then try and replace him

From Arsenal’s point of view, financially it would be better if you keep him because you know he’s a proven goalscorer. You know he’s settled, that he plays well most weeks and that you have to replace him if you sell. I don’t know how much he would be worth now in the market. You see Werner go for £55m, but people forget he’s got his wages on top of that. If he’s on £200,000 a week, that’s another £10m a year so you have to weigh the whole situation up

And you never know whether who you buy in to replace him is going to hit the ground running and if they can handle the Premier League. So in an ideal world, he signs a new three or four-year contract. But Aubameyang might be thinking I’ve got three or four years left at the top level, I want to play Champions League football now and Arsenal can’t guarantee him that at the moment. And players usually get their own way in this era I’m afraid. If a player wants to go, he usually leaves. But I’m hoping they come to an agreement and he stays