Denis Irwin reveals the best United team he played in on 30th anniversary of his debut


“So it was my first competitive game, and my first trophy for Man United. I mean, I always knew how big Manchester United were, and how big the rivalry was, but it was my first big experience of it – albeit at Wembley – and a glimpse of what was to come. Barnesy, John Barnes, would have been on the left-hand side of midfield [against me]. It’s always kind of a strange affair, the Charity Shield/the Community Shield, but it was competitive, as you would expect against Liverpool.

“I was ambitious,” recalled Irwin, when he spoke to Inside United for a special interview to commemorate the anniversary of his first appearance. “I’d let my contract run out at Oldham. No disrespect to Oldham, but I wanted to move to a bigger club and a higher division.

“I’d had four great years at Oldham. We had some great cup runs. In 1989/90, we got to the [FA Cup] semi-final against Manchester United that went to a replay. We drew 3-3 at Maine Road and then got beat 2-1 in the replay, but obviously that put me in the spotlight even more. But I’d decided prior to that, that I wanted to move on.

“It wasn’t the days of the internet or anything like that. The only place you could read speculation or see speculation was in the Sunday newspapers, so everybody used to read them all the time. When a club like United comes calling, you don’t have to think about anything else. I was delighted that I signed in June before my contract ran out. But it was a huge step up for me.”


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