Competition for midfield places is intense at United but Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Ji-sung Park wouldn't have it any other way...
What do you think are the most important elements of being a good midfielder?
JSP: It’s difficult to say, because for me as a winger, I need different qualities compared to these two. But we all play an important part in the game. Everything comes through the midfield and we can control the match. From picking up the ball from the defence, to passing it to the forwards, we play an important role in pulling the play together.
OH: I think it changes depending on what formation we’re using and who we’re playing alongside. The job can be different and sometimes you have to focus on varying elements. Because we attack a lot you need to be wary of counteroffensives - quite a few teams come to Old Trafford and put players behind the ball. I think we would all like to go forward, get in the box and score goals, but some of us are given jobs for a reason because we do other things well - it’s all about the team.
MC: Your role depends on the formation and who you’re up against. If we’re playing at home and facing a lesser team you’re going to be doing a lot of attacking, so defending isn’t a priority. Sometimes, against a side like Arsenal, with the way they play in terms of closing your space down, your function varies greatly.
Is there a player who you’ve seen play and thought, ‘I’d love to try and incorporate that in a game’?
MC: I wouldn’t say there are specific players you watch. For me personally, I know where I would like to improve my game and I don’t look at specific footballers - I pick up things here and there, whether it’s in a game, watching something on television or in training. To be honest, that’s probably where you learn the most, playing with the other lads here. I feel I’m constantly being educated right on my doorstep every day from our very own players.
What’s the best midfield display that you’ve seen from a team?
OH: I think it’s very rare where you get every member of the midfield playing well at the same time. I can’t remember a game when everyone’s been on song. From a midfield four you’re likely to get one not playing as well as they can do, but it’s important to control the battle in the centre of the park as a unit - doing