Manchester United have been urged to embrace their brighter future by appointing Edwin van der Sar as sporting director, with the club having moved on from Jose Mourinho and his infatuation with “living in the past”.
The Red Devils parted company with a Portuguese coach in December after seeing a man who had delivered three trophies in his debut campaign at Old Trafford fail to build on those foundations.
Mourinho is a proven winner, with successes having been enjoyed across Europe, but his apparent reluctance to change his ways and move with the times led to him taking United backwards.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has helped to rediscover forward momentum while operating as interim boss, but it is considered to be crucial that United get that next permanent managerial call right and bring in another familiar face to act as a bridge between the boardroom and the dugout.
Former Red Devils defender Parker told Eurosport: “Looking ahead, I feel they need a sporting director in the European model. Someone who has been around, is respected by agents, and knows them well enough to go and get the very best players because of his reputation.
“Manchester United would be in a position then to attract serious players when they are competing against similar heavyweight clubs in the market.
“I really think the sporting director model can work for United. Fergie is obviously there for advice whenever Ole needs it, but a sporting director would be a big help for a young coach moving forward.
“I think someone like Edwin van der Sar, the Ajax chief executive, would fit the bill because he has football and business experience which would make him the ideal candidate. He knows the club very well, is well respected at Manchester United as a person and for the fact that top players know his name too.”
Parker added on the past under Mourinho and the future under fan favourites: “Players look at the present and how they are moving forward in their careers. They are not like Mourinho, living in the past with his treble from Italy.
“United and Liverpool are moving forward now. We have to say that if you get the right manager, you can get the right personnel. You look at the impact Jurgen Klopp has had on Liverpool.
“Players look at Klopp first as a coach. Secondly, they look at Liverpool as a club.
“It is vital to get the right people in the right positions. The more bling you have round your neck, around your football club, you will attract the top talent to play at that club. United have to compete again in attracting the top talent.
“Players can see adulation, and they can smell success that brings more adulation.
“That is what you want as a player at any club. You want the feeling that you are joining a club on the up.
“If United have Van der Sar involved on the business side, and Solskjaer on the coaching side, it would be an attractive proposition for any player.”
United are also hoping to be able to offer any potential summer recruits Champions League football for 2019-20, with an upturn in form having lifted them to within two points of the Premier League’s top four.