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Carrick's fitness mission

He was an integral part of last season's double-winning side, but the 2008/09 campaign has proved to be a frustrating follow-up for Michael Carrick.

After a solid pre-season, the 27-year-old midfielder hobbled out of United's opening day clash with Newcastle after injuring an ankle.

Almost a month later he returned to action in the 1-0 defeat at Anfield, but was again forced off early after breaking a bone in his foot.

Now, after a successful comeback as a substitute against West Ham last week, the England international is hoping for a prolonged run in the side.

"It's just a case of getting back into the swing of things really," he told ManUtd.com. "It's been a while since I played and a long time since I had a run of games - in three months I've had very little football.

"I've worked as hard as I possibly can in training to get fit, but there's nothing like playing games. So it was nice to get back to it against West Ham and it's now a case of progressing forward."

Carrick has enjoyed unbridled success since his multi-million pound move to Old Trafford from Spurs in the summer of 2006.

Two Premier League titles, a Champions League winner's medal and two Community Shield honours are now in his possession.

And, even though the Reds are somewhat adrift of league pacesetters Liverpool, Carrick fully expects United to be in contention for English football's top prize come May.

"No gap is a good gap when you're chasing, but it's a long season and we just need to keep our momentum and consistency going as we have done in recent weeks," he reasoned.

"As we say every year, as long as you're in contention at Christmas that's when it really starts to count and the league starts to shape up, so we'll see how things go in the next month or two.

"It's a bit premature to be talking about who's going to win the title, but that's what people do isn't it?! Liverpool haven't been in this position for a number of years and it's up to them to see how they adapt to it. But ourselves, Chelsea and Arsenal believe we can challenge them.

"From our point of view, it doesn't matter who it is at the top, you've just got to get on with it," he added. "We're not looking at other teams, we're concentrating on ourselves and how we're playing and the results we're getting. We believe we'll be there come the end of the season.

"But for that to happen we have to make sure we don't drop many points at this stage because we need to put pressure on the teams at the top."
 

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Carrick confident he has improved

MICHAEL Carrick insists he is a better player than when he last won an England cap 15 months ago.

The Manchester United star earned the last of his 14 caps in a friendly with Germany at Wembley under Steve Mc- Claren.

A combination of ill-timed injuries and, in the eyes of Mc- Claren and his successor Fabio Capello, poor form have since kept the 27-year-old out of the international picture.

However, Carrick must have been doing something right as during that time he has gone on to win a second Premier League title at Manchester United and played a major part in the Red Devils' Champions League final win over Chelsea.

‘‘I certainly think I am a better player than when I last played for England,'' said Carrick.

‘‘I have improved a lot by being at Manchester United.

Winning things is great and the honours we have won recently have been fantastic.

‘‘But as an individual you just want to keep improving all the time. That is what I have been doing.â€

Carrick claimed he never stopped believing he would represent the Three Lions again. And his confident passing game has been missed, even if a midfield containing Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard was always going to present a major challenge to the former Tottenham midfielder.

‘‘I always believed in myself,â€

he said. “I knew if I was playing well enough I would get the opportunity.â€

The chances are Carrick will find himself involved against Germany tomorrow given the withdrawals of Gerrard and Lampard.

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/3856722.Carrick_confident_he_has_improved/



daily express

BERLIN MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR CARRICK

Michael Carrick dared to be different yesterday and not simply by being one of the few midfielders to declare himself fit and able for England duty.

The list of absentees for tomorrow's showdown with Germany may be growing ever longer and with it more reasons to dismiss the trip to Berlin as an irrelevance, yet the Manchester United playmaker was keen to buck the trend.

“It's not a meaningless friendly. It's a good opportunity. What a game – Germany versus England is a huge match at any level,†said Carrick.

“This is a good chance for me and now that I am here, I want to play and try to stay in there.â€

While Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard both rest up at home, there is rather more riding on Carrick's contribution in the Olympic Stadium than for the majority of his team-mates in Fabio Capello's much-changed squad.

A performance as refreshing as his thinking and Wallsend-born Carrick can breathe new life into his international prospects. Anything less and he is likely to make a quickfire return to the shadows.

It is more than 12 months since he won the last of his 14 caps, ironically against Germany in a 2-1 defeat at Wembley, and such is the depth to the country's midfield options that he has barely registered on Capello's radar until now.

Whether he likes it or not, the most important 90 minutes of his England career stretches out before him.

“I don't really look at it as that I've only got one chance,†said Carrick. “If you're thinking like that, it puts a lot of pressure on you. It's another game of football for me. To represent my country is massive enough for me. I'm going to try to do what I've been doing, what I know I'm good at.

“I'm not looking to the past too much. I look ahead and think about trying to be a better player. That's what I'm focusing on at the moment. I'd always hope I'd get back into the squad.

“Now I want to push for a starting place. We have got some terrific players, world-class players in midfield.

“So it is a real challenge, but a great challenge.

“I certainly think I'm a better player than I was the last time I played for England.â€

At times, watching the softly spoken, laid-back Carrick yesterday raised the question whether or not deep down he really wants the hassle of trying to force his way into England's midfield and whether playing for the biggest club side in the world, winning Premier League titles and Champions League gongs, does not already satisfy all of his professional cravings.

Inheriting Roy Keane's No16 shirt at Old Trafford following his £18million move from Tottenham in the summer of 2006 suggests he is not someone who shirks a challenge and it is all credit to him that, in time, he is proving it to be a smart fit.

Carrick now has the chance to emulate boyhood heroes Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley. “It has never been a case of not being interested about being here. It means a lot,†he said.

“I'm desperate to be part of the England squad and desperate to play. As a kid, it's what you dream of. I always looked up to Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley because I grew up in that area.

“One of my first big memories of football was Italia 90, watching that and dreaming that one day that could be me. That really sticks out in my mind. The dream was England and the World Cup. It has never been a case of take it or leave it with me.

“Playing in the last World Cup was a great experience, but it was only a little experience. It's something I want to build on. Hopefully the next World Cup will give me another opportunity to do so.

“You get the impression England can be on the verge of something. You're juged on results. The start we've had to the group has been brilliant and we go into every game hoping to win it.â€

Having been handed the chance to play his part in the success story so far, Carrick must now grasp it.
 

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Kellfire said:
I'm a massive fan of Carrick, I think he's integral to our game in big matches. He isn't quite as free to do his own thing as he was at Spurs, but he's bagged two good goals on his bad foot already this season.

He keeps the game ticking over, looksfor a killer pass, retaining possession, excellent positional sense (doesn't tackle much but intercepts so many passes and blocks off runs a lot), calm under pressure. He isn't a spectacular player, which some people see as lack of skill, but we don't need that from him.
Welcome to the best United forum - not the biggest but certainly the best. :)

Me too am a big Carrick fan and your description of him is so familiar. :)

If there is anything negative at all that comes to mind, he is too classy for dirty works in the middle of the park which does not make him stand out like other more established or famed central midfielders who really get themselves stuck in hard in the midfield tussle. But his "excellent positional sense" (not all fans seem to realise that) makes up for it, enabling him to look pretty relaxed and poised, intercepting passes with minimum fuss and tackling with precision rather than agression. And together with his eye for "a killer pass" and his composure on the ball, he has probably become the most influential midfielder in our current team (the case for Scholes is now debatable in the twilight of his long illustrious career with us).

One thing we can benefit from him is when he starts to venture forward to score. That would really give us another precious option upfront. Someone like Hargreaves or Fletcher to drop back while he does his thing would be ideal. [Anderson too, for his wonderful attributes and incredible strength but alas Anderson does seem naturally more offensive-minded, resulting in Carrick often dropping back instead. I do, however, think that Anderson can do both but that is another topic for another day..]
 

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daily express

NOTHING WASTEFUL ABOUT CARRICK

MICHAEL CARRICK had been the exception to the England rule under Fabio Capello, but the midfielder last night proved international friendlies are not a complete waste of time.

The Capello way is to reward players for their form at club level. By that theory, Carrick should be one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Champions League and Premier League winners' medals with Manchester United could not be matched by Carrick's England rivals, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry last season.

But, before the trip to Germany, there had not been room for Carrick in the centre of what is becoming a congested England midfield. Injuries to Lampard and Gerrard cleared the path for him to make his first appearance under Capello. No wonder he could not agree with the popular theory the Berlin friendly was meaningless.

The fact Carrick took Roy Keane's No16 shirt at Old Trafford only reinforces the belief he relishes a challenge and is not bothered about stepping into big shoes. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may not be “too interested†in England recognition for his players, but Carrick clearly wants to make a mark before Capello gets too far down the road of planning for the 2010 World Cup.

Carrick is not of the same dynamic mould as Lampard and Gerrard, and does not offer much of a goalscoring threat. But his strength is a commodity Capello places a great deal of value in – he keeps the ball.

That may seem a simple quality, but it is one England had been sadly lacking in before the Italian took charge.

Alongside Barry against Germany, Carrick was given the same job he carries out so expertly for United. Allowing his partner to push on, the 27-year-old was told to hold his position, offer England's defenders the short pass from the back and start attacks.

The only difficulty at times was that Barry is not accustomed to having to get forward for his country and did not always make the most of the licence Carrick gave him to roam.

Both Gerrard and Lampard would have relished being given the freedom Carrick allowed Barry, but too often England did not have a central midfielder close enough to the front two. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing, though, made better use of the fact Carrick looks to both flanks when he is in possession.

What Carrick and Barry lacked as a pair going forward, they made up for with their ability to stifle the German attacks. In the first half particularly, neither Jermaine Jones nor Simon Rolfes got anywhere near the England area to support Germany's strikers.

In all likelihood it will have to be Barry or Carrick in future, with both players mindful of the fact Owen Hargreaves could jump ahead of them when fit.

But last night was largely about Capello assessing his options and the assured performance of Carrick will have given him even more to think about when next selecting his midfield.



sport.co

Carrick aiming to cement his England place

Michael Carrick is aiming to keep his place in the England team after starring in the friendly victory over rivals Germany. The Manchester United star partnered Gareth Barry in midfield and seemed to click straight away in an impressive performance."We did really well and deserved to win. We had young players in the team and it's great with this manager that he will pick players who are in form," said Carrick.

"Now I want to stay in the squad, that's the aim. It's always been the aim for me and it's up to me to play well enough through Christmas and January to warrant a place again when we play in Spain in February."

Carrick believes England deserved to win in Berlin, even though they almost threw away victory when they gifted Germany a second-half equaliser after Matthew Upson had put the Three Lions ahead. But thankfully John Terry came up with a late winner.

Carrick said: "We played very well as a team and there were also some good individual performances. I feel we deserved to win. We created some good opportunities. It's not an easy place to come and win but confidence is good within the squad right now.

"I'm not sure what the manager's secret is but everyone is enjoying playing for their country, like you should.The confidence and belief is there for all to see. People were asking questions about the team we put out but we all showed the strength e have in the squad. When everyone is playing well it's a good place to be. Germany is not an easy place to come and win but I loved every minute of it."
 

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Nemanjaaa said:
He is neither a holding or attacking midfielder which in a way is a drawback as we can't have a player holding and one going forward but he is decent both ways. He tracks back well, his passing is immense, I think he and Alonso are the top passers in the Premiership and he isn't bad at finishing either. I think he's key to our title challenge.
Good point. I do think Carrick is a bit 'controversial'.

At one glance, he does not look that solid or great a central midfielder as the usual ones we have in mind because he lacks the steel, power and drive (as in "carries the ball forward", not motivation), and is neither a full-fledged defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder. He seems contented to sit back a little, pull the strings and to distribute the ball unlike what we covertly hope for, a box-to-box, full-of-energy, all-action hero a la Keano.

But he does make it up with his range of passings, positional sense, intelligent plays and clever timely interventions, and is still a classy and our best central midfielder now that Scholes is into the twilight of a long illustrious career (same for Giggs, unfortunately too, who has excited many fans for his central midfield display against Chelsea).

I feel he does need to play along someone who can complement his percieved weaknesses, say Hargreaves (for his tenacity) or Anderson (for his power but whom unfortunately despite what he was bought for as a direct replacement for Scholes also does not drive forward as much as we hope for). Incidentally, a neither-here-nor-there feeling also applies to Fletcher, which probably sums up our central midfield's shortfall and I suspect Fergie may take a good hard look in this department in the summer.
 

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football365

FERGIE LAUDS CARRICK INFLUENCE

Unsung hero Michael Carrick returns to West Ham on Sunday at least aware the man who really matters is fully aware of his contribution to the Manchester United cause.

It is now almost five years since Carrick quit the Hammers for Tottenham, having helped steer the east London club out of the Championship, where they had dropped under Glenn Roeder.

At the time Carrick's talents were overlooked as attention remained on the perceived superior attributes of Joe Cole and Frank Lampard.

When he moved to Spurs nothing much changed in a team that contained Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe and the anonymity has continued at United and with England.

Despite boasting two titles and a Champions League medal, when talk surfaces about the main influences at the Red Devils, Carrick's name is hardly ever mentioned.

And Fabio Capello hardly picked the Wallsend-born star as debate raged over the midfield partnership between Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Some stunning recent performances, for England in Germany and, last week, for United against Everton, may have finally awoken some minds to Carrick's contribution.

But Ferguson feels the 27-year-old is destined to be one of the many players he has had at United whose true value is not always obvious.

"People have their favourites and when you are supporting a club like United where there are players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney, it is easy to declare your allegiance to the ones who are in the limelight all the time," said Ferguson.

"Sometimes other players get overlooked.

"It has happened to quite a few in my time, especially the quieter ones.

"Denis Irwin gave me eight or nine out of 10 every week but he never had the celebrity status of people like David Beckham or Eric Cantona. Michael Carrick may come into that category because football clubs are all the same."

But Ferguson knew exactly what he was getting when he spent �18.6million on the midfielder, who also spent time on loan with Birmingham and Swindon.

But the Scot has not been content just to use Carrick's vision.

He has made the player work on the less honed parts of his game too.

And, when Capello names Carrick in his squad to face Spain next Wednesday, Ferguson feels he will be getting one of the best defensive midfield players in the game.

"Michael was already good enough for me to sign him because what he always had, from his young days at West Ham, was vision and a good range of passing that could open up defences.

"Since coming to United, he has developed physically and improved tremendously in defensive terms.

"In that department he is top drawer now.

"He fills positions really well and nips off threats going towards the back four. That is an area that maybe people don't recognise because they just expect him to be playing football and making passes.

"But overall, he is an excellent player."
 

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yangch0000 said:
apart from his passing, personally i think he greatest asset is the ability to read the game well. making key interception, hold the ball up, and look for a key pass into final third, make our attacking play spontaneous. normally in midfield, we have a player who breaks down opponents' attack, and the other midfield player who will receive the ball and make the penetrative pass. IMO, in carrick, we have both.

the attack starts from him after he makes the interception.
Welcome back, yang. Great post. :D
 
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