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07/08/2014 08:23, Report by Denis Irwin
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Irwin: Defenders must adapt in new system

In 12 years at Old Trafford, Denis Irwin forged a reputation as one of the finest full-backs in the club's history, making 529 appearances and winning 15 major honours. Here, the Reds favourite discusses United's defensive options...

It's a new era for the defence following the departures of experienced players Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Louis van Gaal has come in and introduced a new 3-5-2 system, a formation I never experienced in my career. We have played five at the back occasionally in the past, when we've struggled with centre-halves being injured, but very rarely as we did on tour.

We all saw Holland do particularly well at the World Cup and we couldn't have started any better against LA Galaxy and we're undefeated so far under the new manager. It's a learning curve for the players. I know they've got through a lot in training, but now they've got to put it into the matches. It is a new era and there aren't too many experienced players in our defence, with Jonny Evans being the oldest and most experienced of them all at 26.

I do think some of the defenders need to work on the vocal side of their game. Jonny is vocally strong but a couple of the other lads are a little bit quieter. One of them will have to take control and move people around. I'm sure that will come and I'm sure the manager will have encouraged them to be vocal. Any new system needs that but it comes with experience, too. When you're younger, you keep your head down a bit and get on with your game. It's up to the experienced players in defence to organise and Jonny's fine doing that.

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