Michael Carrick has never felt worse than he did after the defeat to Barcelona last May. Yet, as the midfield lynchpin told United Review, the Rome experience has merely made the players more determined to win further silverware....
How was your summer - did you completely switch off from football or spend time reflecting on last season?
I tried to switch off and relax, but it was quite hard after what happened in Rome. I’m still trying to get over losing the [Champions League] final, and I don’t think I will until I win it again. But when you look at the bigger picture, it was a successful campaign. We went to Japan and came back as world champions, won the Carling Cup and went on to win the league for a third time in a row, so we showed how good a team we are.
How does the squad’s mood compare to that of the last few pre-seasons?
It’s the same as always, we’re ready to go again. That’s the beauty of this club, despite all the success, every year you come back and want to achieve more. What’s happened has gone, now it’s about looking forward and trying to earn it all over again.
Have you sensed the team’s renewed determination after the Barça loss?
We’re just as determined as we always are. Winning in Moscow last year was amazing, and we were desperate to repeat that feat. We’ve experienced two very different nights in relatively quick succession, and we know which we like best. Losing like we did in Rome was hard to take, and no-one wants to experience that again. It’s certainly the worst I’ve ever felt after a match – it took about a week for any of my family to be able to talk to me properly. We’ve all learnt a lot from what happened and are determined to come back stronger this season.
There have been a few comings and goings over the summer - how do you assess the strength of the squad?
I don’t think it can be questioned. The gaffer has assembled a fantastic group, bringing in a great mixture of