BENGALURU: One of the most prolific left-backs to grace the beautiful game was Denis Irwin. The Irishman was a constant force in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United throughout the 90s. During his 529 appearances for the club, Irwin won a massive seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup. Now an ambassador for the club, Irwin spoke to Express on a wide range of topics from United’s chance of qualifying for Champions League to long term vision at the club, on the sidelines of Manchester United Soccer Schools event. Excerpts…
United’s UCL chances
We’re drawing too many games but I think we still have a chance to be in Top 4. Chelsea are very consistent and it looks like they will win the league.
Focus on the Europa League
I don’t know if (Jose) Mourinho will prioritise Europa even though the winners get a UCL spot. I think we still have to count on the big matches in the league and of course we would like to win all the trophies available.
Full-back worry at United
At the moment, it’s a battle for left backs no doubt. Managers look for a settled back four but it hasn’t been the case. (Matteo) Darmian, (Timothy) Fosu-Mensah, (Luke) Shaw and even (Marcos) Rojo played but no one has been consistent.
Role of the academy
Academy products play a crucial role for a football club but like the ‘Class of 92’, we haven’t had many youth players coming up the ranks in recent times. I’m not sure if United will ever again get players of similar calibre but I must say Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, and Fosu-Mensah have been impressive.
Mourinho in the long term
There has been a lot of improvements this year, in terms of positivity. He has signed four fantastic players and I think he will continue the rebuilding process in the summer. I’m sure the club is happy about how things are going and we will definitely try to keep him for a long time like Pep (Guardiola) at Manchester City.
Wayne Rooney’s 250th goal
It took him quite a long to get over the line but it’s an unbelievable achievement. It took 40-50 years for Rooney to break Sir Booby Charlton’s record and he can only look back once he retires.