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Competition for midfield places is intense at United but Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Ji-sung Park wouldn't have it any other way...

What do you think are the most important elements of being a good midfielder?

JSP: It’s difficult to say, because for me as a winger, I need different qualities compared to these two. But we all play an important part in the game. Everything comes through the midfield and we can control the match. From picking up the ball from the defence, to passing it to the forwards, we play an important role in pulling the play together.

OH: I think it changes depending on what formation we’re using and who we’re playing alongside. The job can be different and sometimes you have to focus on varying elements. Because we attack a lot you need to be wary of counteroffensives - quite a few teams come to Old Trafford and put players behind the ball. I think we would all like to go forward, get in the box and score goals, but some of us are given jobs for a reason because we do other things well - it’s all about the team.

MC: Your role depends on the formation and who you’re up against. If we’re playing at home and facing a lesser team you’re going to be doing a lot of attacking, so defending isn’t a priority. Sometimes, against a side like Arsenal, with the way they play in terms of closing your space down, your function varies greatly.

Is there a player who you’ve seen play and thought, ‘I’d love to try and incorporate that in a game’?

MC: I wouldn’t say there are specific players you watch. For me personally, I know where I would like to improve my game and I don’t look at specific footballers - I pick up things here and there, whether it’s in a game, watching something on television or in training. To be honest, that’s probably where you learn the most, playing with the other lads here. I feel I’m constantly being educated right on my doorstep every day from our very own players.

What’s the best midfield display that you’ve seen from a team?

OH: I think it’s very rare where you get every member of the midfield playing well at the same time. I can’t remember a game when everyone’s been on song. From a midfield four you’re likely to get one not playing as well as they can do, but it’s important to control the battle in the centre of the park as a unit - doing that can win you a game. The way we play here, we’re always stacked up against five players - teams don’t want to lose and they leave one man up front, so we’re always a man down in that respect.

MC: [laughs] You get used to playing that way, though…

OH: Every team who has come to Old Trafford has done that this season.

MC: You have to get used to it and you expect the opposition to pack the midfield. You know what certain teams are going to do and how they’re going to try and stop you. It’s just something we have to deal with and I think we do really well at that.

Attackers are judged on how many goals they score, defenders by keeping clean sheets – what constitutes a good game for a midfield player?

MC: Winning the game.

OH: It’s not always about playing well - a lot of times we can put in a good performance and the team loses, so I guess if we win then we’re all judged more positively.

MC: That’s true. Take the game against Manchester City [at Eastlands] earlier on in the season. The performance from the whole team was very good; we just couldn’t score. The result is what counts, but look at the match itself and you’ll find we all played well. We controlled the game - as midfielders we dominated them - we just couldn’t quite create that opportunity to score. So despite thinking that you’ve played well, it doesn’t really matter if the team has lost the match.

Park didn't even talk much during the interview!! Wonder why...:rolleyes: :D
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