Dubai: Manchester United legends Dwight Yorke and Denis Irwin insist Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s current crop of underachievers must “man up” and take recent results on the chin if they are to finish the season on a high and secure a place in the Premier League top four — plus pick up the Champions League spot for next season that goes along with it.
United lost 2-0 to local rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on Wednesday and are sixth in the Premier League table, three points off the top four, and face fellow top-four hopefuls Chelsea tomorrow.
United suffered home-and-away defeats to Barcelona in the Champions League, before a humiliating 4-0 thrashing by Everton last weekend.
Yorke, now a United ambassador who played 96 times for the club, scoring 52 goals and winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League title, said that is not acceptable and the players must bear the brunt of the responsibility.
The derby defeat was United’s seventh in nine games in all competitions.
“It’s been a difficult spell for us,” said Trinidadian Yorke, who is visiting Dubai to promote the recent partnership with sunglasses company Maui Jim as official Vision Partner. “The players and the manager have to take responsibility and have to pick themselves up. If we want to finish in the top four, it is up to them, starting with Chelsea on Sunday. There has been a bit of disappointment after the derby, and the results before that against Everton and Barcelona, but you can’t turn back the clock. They must put that behind them. It may be easier said than done but they have to bounce back quick.
“These are the same players who won all those games when Ole took over from Jose Mourinho, and these are the same players who played poorly earlier in the season. These are the same players still playing for the same shirt. They need to man up.
“During my time as a player we might have had the odd hiccup, but we certainly never went on the sort of runs these guys have gone on. When we had a hiccup, we bounced back. We hoped that would have happened against City but it didn’t. As I said, we need to man up now, starting with Chelsea, and if we pick up nine points in our remaining three games I think that will be enough to get us into the top four and then we can go on our holidays and come back for next season with a real positive mindset.
“If you cannot motivate yourself this club and fighting for a place in the Champions League then something is very wrong. It’s time for these guys to own up and man up.”
Irwin concurred with his United colleague. The Irish full-back who played 368 times for United over a 12-year period starting in 1990 and picked up seven Premier League winners medals, three FA Cups and helped the side win the Champions League in 1999, said: “Chelsea is a huge game for us.
“If we don’t win that, the hope of Champions League next season will be extinguished. We can’t rely on others to drop points, we have to do it for ourselves. The last six weeks have been tough. We are fighting. We have three games to go and the guys have to get out there, win those three games and then wait and see if it is enough. We were beaten big style by Everton on a complete off-day, but they guys need to get through to the end of the season. Ole may need two, three transfer windows to move players out and get the right players in, but we still have three games to go and the players in there have to fight for that top-four spot.”