Denis Irwin has backed Louis van Gaal to turn around the fortunes of Manchester United, but admits that it will take time.
Dutchman Van Gaal kicked off his United tenure in disappointing fashion, as the Red Devils slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City at Old Trafford in their opening game of the Premier League season last Saturday.
The performance of the players left much to be desired, although a number of youngsters featured in that contest including Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard (click here to read more).
United will face another tough challenge on Sunday, this time from Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats have been rejuvenated since Gus Poyet was appointed their manager in October 2013 and will head into today’s contest on the back of a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
Irwin, who won the Premier League seven times, the FA Cup thrice and the Champions League once during his time at Old Trafford, has warned United boss Van Gaal against taking Sunderland lightly.
‘It'll be a tough game at Sunderland as they did particularly well at the end of last season and beat a number of top clubs, including us here at Old Trafford’, United’s official website quotes him as saying.
However, the former Republic of Ireland international defender is confident that United will improve as the season progresses.
‘I'm still optimistic and think it can be a great season for us’, added the 48-year-old. ‘We may need a little bit of patience but I think we've got a manager we can trust...
'Van Gaal has huge experience and a great tradition of winning trophies... He's got different ideas and philosophies from the managers we've had in the past two seasons, so it might take a few months for those ideas to bear fruit with the players’
Indeed, Van Gaal has the pedigree and calibre to take United back to the pinnacle of English football, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach needs to be given time to weave his magic.
Perhaps more importantly, the 63-year-old needs to be given the chance to sign the players he wants to. Although the Red Devils have recruited Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo, they need to add two or three more players to compete for the Premier League title.
Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria is reportedly close to switching to United (click here to read more), but United also need a top-class midfielder.
Juventus star Arturo Vidal has been strongly linked with the 20-time English champions, but it is looking increasingly likely that the Chile international will remain in Turin (click here to read more).