Carrick rubbishes breakthrough talk
Michael Carrick is baffled by those who claim this has been his breakthrough season.
Carrick's input has been just as important as anyone's in delivering Sir Alex Ferguson a perfect send-off. Over the last few years Carrick has perhaps not received the recognition that his ability merits. But now that age has caught up with Paul Scholes, a player who many regard as United's greatest ever midfielder, Carrick's contribution has been more widely noticed - much to his surprise.
Carrick said: "It slightly amuses me when I see or hear people saying different things (about me), as if I have suddenly appeared from nowhere. I have maybe played a little bit better than I have done in the past, but I have been happy with my form for a long time really."
"A couple of people say something and it snowballs from there. Obviously you have to be doing things right on the pitch, but it is slightly strange how it has come about this season."
To say Carrick has merely been doing "the right things" this season is quite an understatement. The 31-year-old has completed 2,147 passes in the league this year, second only to Arsenal's Mikel Arteta. And what is more, United's players' player of the season has a 90 per cent pass completion rate.
This has not gone unnoticed by Roy Hodgson. The England manager considers Carrick an integral part of his squad, and given the absence of Steven Gerrard, Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere through injury, the Manchester United man is likely to feature against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and in the Maracana on Sunday versus Brazil.
It seems strange to think that just three years ago Carrick made Fabio Capello's World Cup squad, but did not play one minute of a disappointing campaign in South Africa.
Carrick does not wish to dwell on that experience, and is instead determined to focus on trying to help the Three Lions qualify for Rio 2014.
"What's done is done, whether it's good, bad or indifferent, it's about the next challenge and making the most of that challenge," Carrick said.
"The next challenge is to qualify for the World Cup and then to make your mark as a team. Looking back doesn't really help you or achieve much, you should only do that when you're retired and have your slippers on."