Wednesday 17 October 2018

Denis Irwin backs United's attackers to help Mourinho's charges finish season on a high

Arrival of Sanchez and form of Lukaku points to promising times ahead, according to former Ireland defender

Irwin: optimistic about Manchester United’s Champions League hopes. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
Irwin: optimistic about Manchester United’s Champions League hopes. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

James Ducker

Denis Irwin believes Manchester United's attacking options can give Jose Mourinho's men the edge as they look for second place and silverware.

Pep Guardiola's swashbuckling Manchester City have all but wrapped up the Premier League crown already, given their remarkable double-digit lead as we enter March.

Mourinho has conceded the title is beyond United but boosted hopes of finishing runners-up - their highest position since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 - by overcoming reigning champions Chelsea on Sunday.

FA Cup and Champions League dreams also remain alive for a side that United great Irwin believes are heading in the right direction, especially given Alexis Sanchez's January arrival and Romelu Lukaku's form.

"I think from here on in now, games do have a habit of tightening up," the former United and Ireland defender said.

Dfensively

"So, there's going to be a lot of close games and hopefully we keep doing defensively what we've been doing, and we've got enough going forwards now with Alexis coming in and Lukaku banging the goals in.

"Jesse (Lingard) has come in with a lot more this year, so there's good avenues there.

"We just need to keep going because as I said at this stage of the season it starts to tighten up a bit now we're coming to the money end of it.

"Obviously we got a huge win against Chelsea on Sunday, but there's a huge battle I think for the top four."

United may have been overtaken in second by the time they line-up at Crystal Palace on Monday.

It is their only away match of a potentially season-defining month, with top-four rivals Liverpool arriving in the Premier League before the Champions League last-16 return leg against Sevilla and an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Brighton

"It's a big month," Irwin said.

"It's a big month coming up with Sevilla and Brighton at home. We've just had Chelsea at home and got Liverpool at home as well.

"I think you've got to accept that City have got a very, very healthy lead and besides them having a huge, huge slip-up, they're going to win the league.

"So, it's a battle to finish as high as possible. We're in second place at the moment - and we seemed to be forever in sixth last year so that's a huge improvement.

Tight

"Liverpool are a form team, Spurs are a form team, so it's going to be very tight and very close, so we've just got to keep going to the end and hopefully finish as high as possible.

"The FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton will be difficult but you want your matches at home.

"In the Champions League, I think any one of 10 teams can win it and I'd include us in that because I think the manager knows how to win.

"You saw that in the Europa League last season.

"His history will tell you he knows how to win in Europe as well, so that will count for us.

"So, we're in a very good position with an awful lot to play for in the last two-and-a-half months of the season."

Irish Independent

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