Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

United form never worried Carrick

Michael Carrick always felt Manchester United would pick up their form

Michael Carrick always trusted Manchester United would bounce back after their "shocking" start to the season.

United's win over Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday meant they went into the international break just five points adrift of the Gunners, who remain at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

It is a better position than seemed likely when they were losing at home to West Brom in the middle of September, a result that dropped them into the bottom half of the table.

Yet even in the depths of that third defeat in six games which had yielded just seven points, Carrick was never tempted to hit the panic button, in much the same way as he is not prepared to state United are back despite the confidence generated by a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

"After a shocking start we are not in a bad position," said Carrick.

"We never really got too despondent. We were frustrated with our performances and results but you have to stay patient and trust yourself.

"We knew there was a long way to go and there still is."

United defender Phil Jones has suggested some people have been hoping for United to fail, having become jealous of their immense success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, Carrick does not view it in quite such graphic terms and he feels a portion of the criticism at least was deserved.

"You can take it as a compliment because of what we have done over the years," he said.

"When we are not at the top, because of our recent run in the league people are asking questions and criticising.

"In some ways it is fair. In others we take it with a pinch of salt. We have to deal with it from within.

"A few weeks ago we probably didn't think we would be in this position as quickly. Now we are not in bad shape, although it is still very early."

After those early season failures to beat Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City, Sunday's result also proves manager David Moyes can eke out positive results against United's major rivals.

That in itself should ease the nerves of those fans who remain uncertain about Moyes being the right man to take on the challenge of replacing Ferguson.

But Carrick always felt there would be some period of transition required after such a seismic change.

"Obviously with the new manager and new staff coming together and gelling, (defeating Arsenal) helps the feeling within the club," he said.

"It is easy to jump on the bandwagon when we have lost a game or two and people are saying it is all wrong.

"We knew that wasn't the case but this result has put us in a better position and now there is a bit of stability."

Yet Carrick's withdrawal from the England squad with an Achilles injury does hint at difficulties ahead.

Although he seemed happy enough after Sunday's game, the 32-year-old was limping and there have been rumours he could be set for an extended period on the sidelines.

Danny Welbeck is also out of England reckoning as he struggles to overcome a knee problem that has kept him on the sidelines since October 19.

And Sunday's match-winner Robin van Persie will miss Holland's friendlies against Japan and Colombia in order to rest the toe and groin problems that have troubled him for the past six weeks.

In addition, skipper Nemanja Vidic will need to be cleared by United's medical staff before he can return to duty after suffering concussion in an ugly collision with team-mate David de Gea at the weekend.

Moyes will be crossing his fingers none of the absences are extensive because, upon their return to combat, United are faced with three away trips that could shape their season.

Encounters with a Cardiff side that have already beaten Manchester City and Tottenham will be a test of their new-found confidence, while a meeting with Bayer Leverkusen will either ease United into the next stage of the Champions League or set up a nervous last-day encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk.

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