In his 8 year career at Old Trafford, Michael Carrick has achieved great success. He has won 5 league titles as well as the small matter of the Champions League and League Cup since joining Manchester United in 2006. Carrick was a firm favourite of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and now Louis van Gaal. It is no coincidence that United have a higher win percentage of matches in which he plays, than in the matches that he misses. You do not achieve such glory and acclaim at the biggest club in the world without having a winning mentality and a burning ambition to win trophies.
In an interview with the club’s official end of season review DVD, Carrick stated that simply just coming fourth in order to qualify for the Champions League is not good enough for Manchester United. United need to be number one. Anything but first place is not something to celebrate. Not necessarily a failure, but no reason to have an open top bus ride to celebrate all the same. Manchester United need to have the mind-set that winning is all that counts. How fantastic it is that players who represent the club like Carrick share this view with the fans. He knows the responsibilities that come with playing for Manchester United. He has been there all before in the good and the bad moments for the best part of a decade at the club. Players like Carrick thrive on the glory moments. As he sees it, Manchester United must lift silverware in order to be deemed as being where the club wants to be.
Everyone knows that coming into Van Gaal’s first season at the club after finishing 7th the previous season, getting back into the top 4 was the number one priority. That target was met and the club are able to move on and look to the future. The manager did an incredible job at rebuilding a team that was so low on confidence and turning them into a squad that had the ability to produce good performances against the top clubs in the division. Progression was the all important thing. After winning in matches such as the derby with Manchester City and doing ‘the double’ over Liverpool, both things that would have seemed inconceivable under David Moyes, progression from the previous year is one thing that most certainly did occur. The top clubs are always looking to change and develop. Van Gaal has managed to produce this positive change, yet the likes of Carrick will not see this progression as being sufficient.
As Carrick said in his interview, reaching the top 4 was an achievement, but not that great. Everyone associated with United would swap that with Arsenal’s season of third place and an F.A Cup triumph. United belong in the Champions League. The competition isn’t what it should be without the presence of Manchester United. The fans know that, the club know that and the world know that. They have had one season out of the competition and now they are back, albeit with the need to play one qualifying round, it is time to move on and win trophies again. United will be back challenging the elite again very soon.
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