Former Manchester United defender Denis Irwin (left) answers questions from children and parents after a training session by Evolution Sports Academy at Doha College, yesterday. Irwin made 368 appearances for ‘The Red Devils’, winning 22 medals during a 12-year reign at Old Trafford. PICTURES BY: KAMMUTTY VP
BY DENZIL PINTO
DOHA: Manchester United legend Denis Irwin believes arch-rivals Manchester City are the favourites to lift the English Premier League (EPL) title after admitting his former club face a tough challenge to retain their trophy.
The 48-year-old said the large but expensively assembled squad that Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini has, gives the 2012 EPL winners the edge over their rivals in the title race this season.
Speaking after he took part in a Evolution Sports Academy training session with kids at Doha College, yesterday, Irwin said: “I would say Man City are favourites. Arsenal look very very strong. The signing of (Mesut) Ozil has been very important for them and Aaron Ramsey has been important as well. Chelsea will be there or thereabouts. But I put Man City as the favourites.”
The Irishman added: “I think because they (Man City) got a really strong squad. A really good team but a really good squad. I think when it goes into February, March and April, when you start playing the European matches, you need a big squad because games come thick and fast. Players get tired a little bit more in the back end of the season. It’s great having a good team but Man City have a really strong squad and that is why I make them slight title
With Manchester United suffering a major setback after a 1-0 loss against Newcastle yesterday, a result that saw them 12 points off the leaders Arsenal, who face Everton today, Irwin insists his former club must start winning matches if they want to clinch their 21st EPL
He said: “It’s going to be very hard there’s no doubt about saying that. They will have to go on a really strong run to get up there and challenge. It’s been a year of change. Obviously a new manager (David Moyes) came in and had a tough start with the fixture
He added: “Even though we (Manchester United) got beaten on Wednesday night, (0-1 against Everton), prior to that we were unbeaten but drew too many games but all we can do is keep going. Hopefully we will get back into the mix of things and I still think there will be a lot of twists and turns this season but it’s important that we start winning as quick as
Irwin played 368 times for ‘The Red Devils’ where he claimed 22 winner’s medals under former coach Sir Alex Ferguson during a successful stint.
Irwin said the Scotsman just wanted his players to train hard.
The former Leeds United player said: “I think when you are looking at a manager in knows what to do, then it goes a long way. And you have to dedicate yourself to Manchester
United. All he wanted to do is work as hard as possible, and give everything. As long as you did that, you was fine. Obviously you are playing with better players which help a lot as well.”
Speaking on the effects of the EPL has had on the technical development of players, Irwin said: “La Liga is the best technically league in the world but at the moment I know Atletico Madrid are having a great year but you have to look to Barcelona and Real Madrid. Particularly this year in the Premier League, you got a mix of six or seven teams that can possibly win it and it’s just entertainment value for the Premier League as well.”
He added: “It’s very very fast and physically you have to get around the pitch fast these days, bottom teams can beat top teams. And because it’s a global league as well with fantastic players playing, that’s why I think it’s the most watched league in the world.
“It will have an effect as time goes on. It had an effect on Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We just have to deal with that and hopefully do a lot more in England and Ireland to make players technically more better.”THE PENINSULA