UNITED STAMP THEIR RE­SOLVE

Car­rick signs new one-year deal to help turn Mour­inho’s side into con­tenders

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER

MANCH­ESTER United’s much-dec­o­rated mid­fielder Michael Car­rick will be stay­ing at Old Traf­ford next sea­son to try and help Jose Mour­inho mount a gen­uine chal­lenge for the Pre­mier League ti­tle.

Car­rick signed a new year-long deal on Satur­day night, mean­ing he will go into his tes­ti­mo­nial next week­end know­ing he will wear Manch­ester red for a 12th sea­son from Au­gust.

His de­ci­sion gives Mour­inho an im­por­tant boost at the start of a sum­mer of trans­fer ac­tiv­ity that will help de­fine whether he can take the EFL Cup and Europa League win­ners to the next level of chal­leng­ing for the big­gest tro­phies.

Should Wayne Rooney leave as ex­pected this sum­mer, 35-yearold Car­rick will be the longest­serv­ing player at United and the sole sur­vivor from their 2008 Cham­pi­ons League-win­ning side.

Mour­inho ac­knowl­edged Car­rick’s in­flu­ence and know-how on his new-look United team that could fea­ture four ad­di­tional sign­ings by the time the new cam­paign starts in Au­gust.

“Not only is he a great foot­baller, Michael is also a fantastic hu­man be­ing and a great role model to our younger mem­bers of the team. He is one of the true pro­fes­sion­als of the game,” said the United man­ager.

Both Car­rick and Mour­inho are se­rial win­ners and know that com­pet­ing for the Pre­mier League and Cham­pi­ons League is the next step after last week’s Europa League tri­umph.

The com­pre­hen­sive man­ner of their 2-0 vic­tory against Ajax has given fresh hope of United be­ing able to over­turn a 24-point gap be­tween them­selves and Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons Chelsea, be­sides re­turn­ing to the Cham­pi­ons League.

“An­to­nio Conte has done a very good job with Chelsea but we will see next sea­son. I think we will fight for the ti­tle,” said de­fender Mat­teo Darmian. “The man­ager is a win­ner. He pushes the play­ers and the tro­phies he’s won speaks for it­self. It gives con­fi­dence to ev­ery­one.

“He brought his men­tal­ity from the be­gin­ning, his idea of work and foot­ball. I think we’ve im­proved a lot from it and won tro­phies. It’s not bad.”

Young Dutch de­fender Ti­mothy Fosu-Men­sah, who is set to play a ma­jor part in Mour­inho’s plans, added: “The ti­tle is pos­si­ble. We are United so that is what we aim for. I wouldn’t say there is a big gap. We beat Chelsea and drew at Manch­ester City.”

Among Mour­inho’s tar­gets to turn United into ti­tle con­tenders are the Atletico Madrid for­ward An­toine Griez­mann and Burn­ley de­fender Michael Keane. De­spite his com­ments last week de­cry­ing foot­ball ‘poetry’, there is also some pres­sure on the United man­ager to get the bal­ance right be­tween style and suc­cess.

For­mer man­ager Sir Alex Fer­guson is among those con­cerned that the club have not lived up to their tra­di­tion of pro­vid­ing en­ter­tain­ment, believ­ing the team’s lack of tempo and crosses make them eas­ier to de­fend against. Fer­guson’s bi­og­ra­pher wrote an ar­ti­cle head­lined ‘Mour­inho must add poetry to prag­ma­tism if team are to progress’ after their Europa win in Stock­holm.

Mour­inho’s in­sis­tence that United have won three tro­phies this sea­son — he in­cludes the Com­mu­nity Shield as a proper tro­phy — has also been viewed with raised eye­brows. David Moyes did not leave Old Traf­ford hailed as a tro­phy-win­ner de­spite the Com­mu­nity Shield win in 2013.

United will pa­rade the Europa League tro­phy be­fore Car­rick’s tes­ti­mo­nial at Old Traf­ford next Sun­day be­tween a United ’08 XI and a Car­rick all-star XI fea­tur­ing Steven Gerrard and Rob­bie Keane.

Car­rick said: “I am de­lighted my jour­ney with this great club is go­ing to con­tinue. I am thrilled the fans will get to see our new tro­phy on my tes­ti­mo­nial day.” Daily Mail

Michael Car­rick will be the long­est-serv­ing player at United should Wayne Rooney leave as ex­pected this sum­mer.

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