Date: 10th December 2011 at 9:28am
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Good morning. 

Cracking interview with from Henry Winter in yesterday’s Telegraph. The quotes below merely serve to confirm some of our most positive hopes.

“It’s probably the best team I’ve played in. Look at Gareth. He has exceptional ability. He can carry the ball 60 yards up the field. Aaron too.

When the team-sheet goes in, the opposition full-backs must be thinking, ‘This is going to be a tough day today’. And Kyle and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are unbelievable. I wouldn’t even class them as full-backs. I class them as wingers/defenders.

“Then we have Luka in there as well. He’s a fantastic player, technically, who puts a shift in. And we’ve got Rafa [van der Vaart] and Jermain []. Top players.

So is Manu. He’s a real bubbly character, one of those happy-go-lucky fellas. I’ve never seen him looking miserable. He’s a joy to be around. You have people in your team who are buzzy, and you want to be around, and you sometimes have quite negative people, always moaning about something. I always want to be around Manu. Before I met him, I’d read stuff about him but he’s great. He’s a good man.”

“I’ve heard him say to in meetings: ‘They are not going to live with you today. Today’s the day. You’re going to score two goals, you’re going to win the game for us’. I can see Adebayor getting bigger and bigger as Harry’s saying it.

“Harry makes you feel good. What you see is what you get with Harry. There are some managers who you think I don’t quite know them.

Like Mourinho. You’d need to speak to people who’ve been in Mourinho’s company to understand him. But with Harry, it’s him. He was one of the main reasons I wanted to sign. He’s a great manager. He gives you freedom. ‘Go out and play’.”

The comments about are particularly interesting. My impression of Parker from what I seen over the years is that he’s a pretty straightforward, ordinary chap. An English everyman if you will. So if there were some ‘side’ to the beaming Togolese nutcase – whilst it is arguable Parker wouldn’t gossip about it to Winter – it is even less likely he’d praise him for no good reason.

I was unconvinced before we signed him. This is no secret. And in this I wasn’t alone. But he won us all over with not only a rate that shamed so many of his predecessors but an effectiveness that dwarfed them. 

He wins most of his tackles. His internal Sat Nav is permanently programmed to advance towards the other lot’s goal. If he passes laterally it’s because it’s that or stand a bloody good chance of losing possession. 

There was a story doing the rounds that he gave his colleagues a ‘Churchillian’ pep talk in the dressing room when the chips were down. Having had the pleasure of him in the Lilywhite for a little while now I can completely believe it.