Irwin: Reds cannot get distracted

Tuesday 12 December 2023 09:00

Manchester United legend Denis Irwin believes all the current team can do on Tuesday night is focus on the very difficult job of beating Bayern Munich.

Erik ten Hag's men know a draw in the other Group A fixture, between FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray, would open up the opportunity for us to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.

However, both the Danish and Turkish champions need a victory themselves, and Bayern represent the toughest of opponents. The Bundesliga giants have won seven of their last eight away fixtures in the Champions League and are looking to make it an incredible 40 group games unbeaten at this level.

Our former full-back feels all United can do is endeavour to get three points and shut out any details emerging from Denmark.

Ten Hag's team news for Bayern tie


Erik says he has one injury doubt, in particular, for the Old Trafford game on Tuesday.

“You do probably hear from the crowd but, listen, it’s up to the players to do the job and concentrate on that job," Irwin told United Review, the official matchday programme. "Make sure we win the game and not get too distracted. And then we’ll just have to wait and see what materialises.

"Whatever happens, happens, as is the case with most things. When you’re going into a run-in for a league title, you know you’ve got to just look after yourselves, and make sure we get the three points that we want.”

One thing is straightforward: victory would ensure we do prolong our European adventure next year, with three points enough to at least secure a spot in the Europa League.

“Yeah, it’s clear-cut," agreed Denis. "Absolutely, we have got to win to guarantee us a European spot. If it’s not to be at the top table, we’ve got to just make sure we look after ourselves.”

There are shades of 1998, when a last-game decider between United and Bayern ended up in a 1-1 draw, that took both sides through and eliminated Barcelona. The sides would meet again, of course, in the famous final at the Nou Camp the following May.

“I think, in the end, both teams were probably happy with a draw," admitted Irwin. "We qualified as one of the best runners-up in the 'Group of Death', as obviously Barcelona and Brondby were in it too. It was just a battle. We went one up, through Roy Keane, but they equalised and the second half just petered out really.

"It got us over the line and into the knockout stages – it was the quarter-finals back then, as there was no such thing as the round of 16.”