Denis Irwin has backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to do ‘an amazing job’ at Manchester United and believes the ‘highly intelligent’ Norwegian has what it takes to be a success at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer is currently in the midst of his first full season as Manchester United manager with the club currently sitting fifth in the Premier League, though there have been signs of improvement with an 11-game unbeaten run prior to the suspension of the campaign.
Irwin played alongside the former fans’ favourite during his own time with the Red Devils and admits he was unsurprised to see his former teammate move into management, giving a definitive answer when asked if he was shocked to see Solskjaer handed the reigns at United.
“Absolutely not. I spent six or seven years with Ole, he’s very studious, very involved in the game,” Irwin told Switchbox TV’s The Old Footballers Club. “I think it’s a well-known fact that when he was a sub, he used to take it all in and try to work on defenders weaknesses for when he went on, so not at all [surprised].
“He’s a highly intelligent man, he knows what he wants, so no surprise at all that he went into football [management].
“It was tough taking over at Manchester United, he went on that incredible run when he took over. This year is his first full year, his first pre-season.
“I think he’s signed some great players – in particular Fernandes in the January window. Pre-Christmas, we were up and down a little bit and then we went on a run, 11 games, where we got ourselves really challenging for that European spot before the coronavirus came in.
“We start up again, but I think Ole will do an amazing job, I really do.”
Irwin acknowledged the huge pressure that comes with management at the highest level in the Premier League, but hailed Solskjaer’s ability to unite the dressing room since his arrival as Jose Mourinho’s successor.
“There is so much money involved in the Premier League that there is so much pressure on managers,” he added. “Ole knows the history of the club and he knows what the club is all about.
“He’s tried to bring everyone back in together and back as a unit, but I think that we are heading in the right direction. But the pressure is incredible. Social media these days is so big that everybody has got a piece to say. You need to be thick-skinned.”
United make their return to action behind-closed-doors with a trip to face former manager Mourinho and Tottenham on Friday night.