Old Trafford stars Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were recently out in force for the launch of the bwin Manchester United Casino App – the world’s first club based real money casino app, for which first-time players get a £10 bonus when they make a £10 deposit using the code MANU10.
Red Devils legends Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin sat down with news.bwin.com for a chat, with their thoughts on United’s manager, who has caught their eye so far this term, and how the game has changed over the past couple of decades all coming up over the course of the conversation.
Which member of the current squad most reminds you of yourself?
I think in a certain way Herrera has got a bit of busyness about him. He tries to get forward. He tries to get a goal. He works very hard. He tries to nit things together. He’s only a young lad and he’s still learning the game.
I suppose a lot of people would say Michael Carrick, but I was more like Michael when I got to my later years and I used to sit in front of the back four, which Michael’s always been asked to do at United. So I’d probably say Herrera.
When you’re younger the manager wants you to play box-to-box, and I had quite a lot of energy about my game. Herrera’s a bit like that. He’s always on the move. He’s got an instinct to be able to get in the box and score a goal.
When you’ve got more experience managers tend to want to play you in a deeper role and have someone else do the box-to-box role.
Which role did you prefer?
Put it this way. I enjoyed the box-to-box and scoring goals, but I didn’t win too much. Once I went back and we got a few younger legs around me and I was dictating play we won a few more trophies, so I enjoyed that better. And it’s not as hard on your body.
Which of the new signings has impressed you most this season?
Daley Blind has been very steady, wherever the manager has played him. He’s played at left-back, centre-half, central midfield, and you get a steady performance from him every time he plays. The other new lads have had more highs and lows.
Daley reads the game well. You know he doesn’t have out and out pace, but he marked Andros Townsend out of the match against Spurs by closing him down and reading him, making sure he couldn’t use his pace in behind. Townsend got substituted early because he was ineffective.
Possibly your finest hour in football away from Old Trafford was keeping West Brom up in 2005 after being bottom at Xmas. Any hope for Leicester this year? And who do you think will go down?
Leicester and QPR have too much to do. After looking at their fixture lists on Match of the Day over the weekend I think either will do very well to survive.
After Sunderland’s bad loss at home to Aston Villa it looks to be between them and Burnley. West Brom had another good win at the weekend. Villa are still in a bit of trouble, but you know they have players who’ll get goals between now and the end of the season
Which current member of the squad most reminds you of yourself?
Luke Shaw’s young, an attacking full-back. You have to be more attacking these days. Daley Blind played left-back against Spurs the other day and played really well. I suppose he would be more in my mode, defensive but likes to get forward as well.
But the modern-day player has to constantly get forward and overlap.
I was going to get on to that next actually. How do you think the role of full-back has changed since your playing days?
When I started out the role of the full-back was to defend, and if you could go forward well and good.
Gradually, even at my time at Manchester United, when you’re the team that has the most possession you have to go forward, which was great because it suited me anyway.
It’s even taken to a different level with holding players a lot more in the game these days, so full-backs can bomb on knowing that there’s always somebody there to cover in defence.
Full-backs are an especially important part of the game today because it has become more tactical, and how you use full-backs can get around tactics.
If you’ve got an attacking full-back it’s a huge asset.
With that in mind, do you think you would have enjoyed playing as a full-back more or less now than during your day?
I enjoyed my time, especially at United where I had 12 great years. I lived in an era when it was, I suppose, less tactical, a bit more fun, a bit more attacking. I’d love to play now but I enjoyed my time.
What has impressed you most about Louis van Gaal since he arrived?
Organisation, first and foremost. Wherever he’s managed, he’s done really, really well.
A successful manager at Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AZ Alkmaar, the Dutch national team at the last World Cup…Wherever he’s gone he’s done fantastically well.
This is a new challenge for him in the Premier League. I know the players like working with him. I know they like the training.
He’s managed great clubs before so he’s not afraid to manage Man Utd. He’s a man of great confidence.
The new manager has brought through quite a few young players since he arrived, many of them defenders. Who has caught your eye the most?
Well, initially he was forced to play young defenders because of the amount of injuries we’ve had.
Pre-season’s a great opportunity for the young lads to go away with the squad and they hope they get games. Tyler Blackett played well a few times in pre-season, so he was there starting games at the start of the season when there were no fit defenders. Then Paddy McNair was thrown in at the deep end. He did particularly well in a few matches at right-back recently.
Luke Shaw’s already had a couple of great seasons in the Premier League with Southampton, and he’s only 19, so you’d think he’ll only get better and better. They’re young so they’ll make mistakes, but they’re good players.
Good to see [Andreas] Pereira getting a run against Spurs. Van Gaal won’t be afraid to throw on a player if he’s good enough, no matter what age.
Apart from yourself, who is the greatest Irish player in Man Utd history?
Roy [Keane]. It’s not hard. Paul McGrath was before my era. Paul was great at Man Utd, but he had five or six fantastic years at Aston Villa and is more of an icon there.
Certainly in my time Roy, but you could argue George Best.
Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin were speaking at the launch of bwin Manchester United Casino – the world’s first club based real money casino app which is available now on Android from bwin.com/manutdcasino and will be available soon on iOS through the App Store.
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