Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man to lead Manchester United and the acquisitions of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho into genuine contenders for the English Premier League title, former Manchester United players Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin said.
Robson, the former Manchester United skipper, and Irwin, a member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 treble-winning side, were in Malta last weekend to take part in the VisitMalta Manchester United soccer school which was organised at the Mellieħa FC ground.
Young players from the Mellieħa FC academy took part in a training session with coaches from the Manchester United Academy as well as Robson and Irwin.
“This has been a great experience for us here in Malta,” Robson told The Times of Malta.
“When you look at the excellent facilities there are here and seeing these young kids putting so much energy into playing football has been a real big positive. Denis and I always enjoy participating in such initiatives like this as enjoying playing football is what the game is all about.”
Irwin said that it’s important for Maltese clubs to follow Manchester United’s philosophy to invest heavily in their young players.
“Investing in young players is of huge importance in football and Maltese clubs should follow that line,” the former Ireland international said.
“At Manchester United, we have a great academy and we always managed to get young players into the first team in the last eight years.
“If you look at the first team now you have the likes of Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, Dean Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and there are a couple more who will make it to the first team soon.
“The Manchester United Academy coaches here are
the same that operate in Manchester and it’s great to see many young players here practising the game with their smile on their face.”
This summer, Manchester United have reconfirmed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when handing him a new three-year contract and Robson agrees that he is the right man for the joy.
“Ole has done a great job at the club as the team is improving every year,” Robson said.
“This summer, the club has made two excellent signings in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
“As for Solskjaer, Ole has done a great job improving each year, signings were very good, we brought in Sancho and Varane – quality not only to the squad but quality to the team.
“I believe that if United manage to keep away from injuries, I think we can challenge for the title.”
Despite the arrival of Sancho and Varane, pundits think that the Red Devils are still short of one major signing to be in a position to challenge Manchester City and Chelsea for the Premier League title.
Robson said another midfield addition will surely give an added dimension to the squad but said that if the club decides to stay with the group of players they have he still fancies them to challenge for the title.
“I think they are pretty strong in midfield with Scott McTominay and Fred looking like the preferred duo for Solskjaer,” Robson said.
“Nemanja Matic has had a great pre-season and played against Leeds United, while if Ole wants to field a more attacking side, he can put Paul Pogba or Donny van de Beek there so there are a lot of
“But it’s clear that if you want to go one step further and win trophies a top-drawer central midfielder would give us a huge push. But, honestly, I wouldn’t be disappointed to go into the season with the squad we have.”
It has been almost five years since Manchester United have won a trophy. Last May, they came incredibly close when losing the Europa League final to Villarreal after a penalty shoot-out. But Irwin believes that if the team shows more consistency and stay injury free, they stand a great chance to win trophy.
“Manchester United have been knocking on the door for the last couple of seasons,” Irwin said.
“They have been knocking on the door for the last couple of seasons, reaching the semi-finals and the Europa League final last season where they were unlucky to lose on penalties against Villarreal.
“Sometimes you need luck to get over the line. I think with this group of players once they win a trophy under their belt, as we did, they will grow in confidence.
“The important thing is to stay injury-free and be even more consistent we are certainly in with a great chance to win a cup.”