Denis Irwin insists there are positive signs for the future at Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who will need time but has already shown signs of turning the club around in what is a big rebuilding job.
Solskjaer’s side started with that emphatic win over Chelsea at Old Trafford, but have since struggled, with draws at Southampton and Wolves along with a shock defeat at home against Crystal Palace.
Finishing chances has been a big problem, which has been highlighted after the Red Devils let Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave in the summer, leaving a younger-looking frontline behind.
After an international break to refresh themselves, United face Harry Maguire’s former side Leicester on Saturday in what will be a good barometer of where they stand in terms of Premier League places – but regardless of the result Irwin feels they are heading on the right path with Solskjaer.
“We start off again against Leicester after the international break, which may have come at a good time, but it will be a difficult game for us,” Irwin told Sporting Life.
“The atmosphere around the club is definitely better. We’ve played OK, we’ve been in positions to win games and score goals that we’ve not taken unfortunately, so we just need to try and make more of those chances when we get them.”
The Fergie factor at Old Trafford
Sir Alex Ferguson is obviously a huge influence on all the current managers who served under him as players, and while it will pay to take aspects of his style, Solskjaer must find his own way of dealing with management.
“He’ll want to stamp his own style on it, he’ll take a lot of things from working with Sir Alex but when you become a manager I always think that you want to try to be your own man and play the way you want to play and manage the personalities in the team the way you want to,” Irwin added.
“You can see already that there’s a lot more intensity about how Ole wants them to play, the pre-season was harder than before and he’s working them hard.
“It’s too early in the season to say where we will finish but I know a lot of people within the club see a lot of positivity around the team, around the manager and behind the scenes.”
Solskjaer’s three summer signings seem to have slotted in nicely so far, and that’s another positive for Irwin, who knows that Solskjaer’s signings will be key in the lengthy rebuilding process.
“Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are fantastic and have slotted in really well. Harry Maguire was bought late on but if you look at those three they’ve probably been our best three players so far this season. They’ve been three really good signings.
“We needed a big powerful centre half and we’ve got that, and we needed pace out wide and both Wan-Bissaka and James give us lots of that.
“There was also going to be players going out as we had a big, big squad. We’re in a bit of a rebuilding stage, it was Ole’s first opportunity to buy players and in January we may see some more things happening.
“The performances have been there, we’ve definitely been better but they’ve just not managed to turn that into points so far.”
Back to basics
There’s a back-to-basics feel about Manchester United under Solskjaer, and that includes putting a lot of faith in the young players at the club, who will now get a big opportunity given the big names that have departed this summer.
“There’s a lot of youth in this team, and there’s more on the bench in Greenwood and Chong who I think will play a lot of games this year so it is going to be a young forward line especially,. So if we keep on creating chances we’ll win more games than we lose.
“So I still think we’re in a fairly healthy state for the season.”
Denis Irwin was speaking at event with official club partners Remington, who have launched a range of co-branded Manchester United grooming and styling products. For more information, please click here.