Irwin challenges Ole's Reds to make history

Wednesday 05 August 2020 06:00

Denis Irwin has challenged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's young Manchester United team to earn their place in the club's history by claiming this year's UEFA Europa League.

The Reds' domestic campaign finished on a positive note two weekends ago with a 2-0 victory over Leicester City that sealed third place in the Premier League, plus Champions League football for next term.
But while achieving that target was welcome, club legend Irwin is keen to stress that the season is far from over. United's European duties resume on Wednesday, with the second leg of our Europa League last-16 tie with LASK, and the Irishman wants to see sharpened minds and fresh legs giving everything to win the big piece of silverware that is still up for grabs.

“The pressure feels off a little bit, but there's a trophy to be won – it's as simple as that, and we've got to go for it,” said the 1999 Treble winner.

“There's no point going over there half-heartedly, knowing that you've achieved getting the Champions League for next year by finishing third, in what was a fantastic second half of the season – albeit a strange one. If there's something to be won, go and try and win it. It's three games over eight or nine days and we're more than capable of doing it.”

During his own playing days, Irwin had the experience of finishing outside the top two in the league on just two occasions – his first and last seasons (1990/91 and 2001/02) – and he's confident his former team-mate Solskjaer will not be satisfied unless some silverware is brought back to Old Trafford.

“I hope, and I presume, Ole won't let them settle because they've achieved Champions League for next year, but it's as simple as this: three games,” said the 54-year-old.

“Obviously, we should get over Wednesday night [against LASK],” Irwin clarified, with the Reds holding a 5-0 advantage over the Austrians. “I'll be hugely disappointed if we don’t!

“But then we've potentially got three games in, what, eight or nine days. It almost feels like the pressure's off, but it shouldn't be, because there's a trophy there to be won. If there's something there to be won, go and try and win it. Particularly when you get to the latter stages of it.”

Should United progress to the last eight of the competition following the second leg with LASK, wey'll head to Germany for the mini-tournament that will conclude the Europa League. And Irwin believes we also might have an advantage over some of the sides that we could face in any potential quarter-finals, semis or the final.

“It [the Europa League] comes at a strange time. You've had a week-and-a-half, two weeks off,” noted Denis, “but we'll have an advantage over some teams in the fact that they've not really played games yet [domestically, since the COVID-19 pandemic], so that could be a big advantage to us. Why not have a go for it?”


If United can preserve our advantage over LASK from the first leg in Linz, back in March, we will play Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen in Cologne at the quarter-final stage. The match would take place on Monday 10 August.

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