Saturday, March 3, 2012

Singing For Unsung Hero

Fergie: Carrick is our new Scholes
2 March 2012

ALEX FERGUSON has hailed Michael Carrick as Manchester United's unsung hero. The Geordie midfielder, 30, rarely attracts attention much like team-mate Paul Scholes, who refuses to embrace the glamorous lifestyle of so many modern-day professionals.

Carrick has not always been that popular among the Old Trafford faithful but is virtually certain to be in the starting line-up when the Red Devils take on his former club Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Ferguson said: "Michael is not a guy that seeks a lot of publicity.

"He is a quiet lad. He goes about his life in a similar way to Paul Scholes. It doesn't mean to say he is not recognised by us.

"You get players like that. Denis Irwin was much the same. He was not the type to trumpet his achievements.

"It is quite refreshing in the modern game that we have players who can rely on their ability not only by promoting or projecting themselves."

Where Ferguson and Carrick do have a difference of opinion is in the Scot's repeated claims that the midfielder comes into his own in the second half of the season. Carrick has never understood that. But the United boss is convinced it is true.

Ferguson said: "I know he disagrees but I always feel the second half of the season sees Michael at his best.

"He is doing that at the moment. His form for quite a while now has been absolutely superb. He and Scholesy are a good partnership."

Not that Carrick needs telling. Being quiet has created the impression he lacks confidence, which Ferguson insists is not the case.

Ferguson explained: "Michael is mentally strong.

"He has a different personality. That can be misread by a lot of people thinking he has to be encouraged all the time. That is not the case."

Carrick believes he has improved thanks to the extra pressure of being one of the older players in United's squad following the departures of Edwin van der Sar, John O'Shea, Wes Brown and, for a time, Scholes last summer

Carrick said: "Responsibility comes with experience and age is a big factor in that.

"There was a huge turnaround in the summer.

"The lads who left were all hugely experienced. The ones who came in, or back from loan, were younger.

"All of a sudden I was seen as one of the older ones - and I am, I am 30 now.

"I haven't got a problem with that. You have to set an example to the lads coming through and keep the traditions of the club going.

"Hopefully I have done that."

Carrick was delighted to see Scholes come out of retirement to rejoin United.

He said: "It is great to have Paul back.

"I wouldn't say I missed him because you have to move on quickly but he is one of the greats of English football and to play with again is great.

"We have a good understanding and enjoy playing with each other.

"We have had some good games already this season and hopefully there are more to come."

Ferguson confirmed that Chris Smalling is United's only doubt, having been taken to hospital after clashing heads with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in England's 3-2 friendly defeat to Holland on Wednesday.

Tom Cleverley and Antonio Valencia, as is Michael Owen — although the former England striker is now back in training.

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