Denis Irwin has urged Jose Mourinho to try and match Manchester City’s style of football to an extent in order to be competitive in the Premier League title race.
The Reds currently sit 16 points behind their local rivals after suffering dropping points at Huddersfield Town, Leicester City, Stoke City and others.
An inability to consistently beat smaller sides away from home has resulted in such a huge, unassailable gap. Irwin believes Mourinho has had a positive impact on the club, but thinks Man United will still be some way off City next season, so must change their ways.
Irwin also encouraged Mourinho to look for a creative player in the mould of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who the Portuguese managed in his second stint at Stamford Bridge.
“Manchester City have raised the bar so highly, it’s going to be difficult to close that gap next year,” Irwin told SportingBet.
“I think we lack a bit of creativity, but hopefully with Sanchez bedding in, that should raise it. I still think we need an Eden Hazard-esque type player.
“I think we need to be more free-flowing in our play, and try and match what City are doing. After City beat us at Old Trafford, it’s clear there’s a big gap. We’ve got some talented players, but we’ve lacked consistency.”
Irwin hailed the defensive solidity of United, but insisted that it’s not enough to do that in most games against lesser opposition, and that the Reds must be more consistent.
“We’ve defended solidly in some games, and then others been completely picked apart,” Irwin continued. “United of past were great at getting points when they’ve not played well and at the moment, we’re not doing that. That’s the sign of a team that’s hungry to win the title.”
While most of Irwin’s criticism is fair, it’s not right to say this United side haven’t ground out undeserved wins. Monday night’s sensational comeback against Crystal Palace, finished with a Nemanja Matic half-volley from 25-yards, was a perfect example of that.
United were poor in the first half, but came away with a 3-2 win and all three points. Last week at Old Trafford, Mourinho’s substitutions saw United beat the reigning Premier League champions 2-1 despite a pretty poor performance.