United attitude rubs off on Carrick

BY foxsports • February 26, 2010

Michael Carrick has admitted he is a changed man thanks to life at Old Trafford.

Carrick freely accepts that when he moved north from Tottenham in 2006 the thought of winning just one medal was enough.

Yet it did not take much time surrounded by the serial trophy hunters at Manchester United to alter Carrick's view.

So, although the England midfielder has three Premier League titles, a European Cup and a Carling Cup winners' medal in his collection, he retains a fairly strong hunger to beat Aston Villa in Sunday's Carling Cup final.

"Without doubt I am a different player than I was when I arrived," he said.

"I used to dream about winning a trophy and I was lucky enough to win the Premier League in my first year.

"That was great and before I might have settled for it, relaxed and thought, 'That's me'.

"But pretty much straight afterwards, before we went away in the summer, we lost the FA Cup final.

"It made me wanted to win something else to put that right.

"Ever since then, as soon as I have won something, I have wanted more.

"Winning is a great feeling but the desire to achieve extra is the thing that drives you on."

That intensity is one of the reasons Carrick has no intention of looking back, even though he has been part of the most prolific period of gathering silverware that United have ever known.

"Your career is not about what you have done over the last few years," he said.

"It is about the future. That is what is so great about the people at this football club.

"The appetite of people like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville - and not forgetting the manager - is incredible and it rubs off on everyone else.

"When I have my feet up in the front room in 10 years' time maybe then I will look back and say we had a good spell.

"Right now I want that spell to go on as long as possible."

The Carling Cup may not have the prestige of the Premier League, FA Cup or Champions League but it offers Carrick and his team-mates a potential place in the history books.

In all their years, Manchester United have never successfully retained a cup competition.

After Ben Foster's penalty shoot-out heroics against Tottenham last season, that is exactly what the Red Devils will do if they overcome Martin O'Neill's men.

"It would be nice to do and we have got ourselves into a good position," observed Carrick.

"But that is just a by-product of the main aim, which is winning the game and picking up that medal."

Ferguson has a few tricky selection dilemmas to resolve.

The goalkeeping position would appear to be a straight scrap between Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak, while Wes Brown must hold off competition from Nemanja Vidic if he is to partner Jonny Evans in central defence.

Carrick and Darren Fletcher are set to start in central midfield, while it would be a brave man who told 27-goal Wayne Rooney he was not going to be involved.

However, Darron Gibson and Rafael - who missed last year's final through injury - should bring a semblance of youth to a United line-up that definitely will be without Nani, who was sent off in the Premier League meeting between the sides at Villa Park earlier this month.

Although United had the better of a draw on that occasion, as Villa ended their long wait for an Old Trafford triumph thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor's goal in December, it is the Birmingham giants who can boast superiority in recent meetings.

"Villa showed their qualities that day at Old Trafford," said Carrick.

"They are good on the counter-attack. They have speed, energy and a lot of quality. They are also a tough team who are pretty solid defensively.

"It is hard to say how they will approach this game though because it is a one-off, with a trophy at stake. You can't really settle for a draw as you might in a league game.

"We will try to stick to our normal game. Hopefully that will bring us the result."

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