Michael Carrick speaks exclusively to ManUtd.com's Nick Coppack about his sparkling form this season and defying the critics...
Firstly, with United's Player of the Year awards coming up, can you reveal which of your team-mates has impressed you most this season?
I think Antonio Valencia’s come into some great form. He’s had a few games where he’s almost been unplayable and given full-backs an unbelievably hard time. Jonny Evans has been consistent and stepped in and stepped up hugely. He’s been here a number of years and has plenty of experience, but this season he’s been brilliant. I think Paul Scholes’ return has given everybody a boost, too. That was a big lift for us and he’s played really well. I think Rio deserves a mention as well for how he’s played alongside Jonny. There are probably five or six players who deserve the award.
And what about the young lads in the side: how impressed have you been with the character they’ve shown this season?
They’ve been great. I think it comes from the boss. As soon as you walk through the door here it’s drilled into you. Not by somebody telling you every day – but you pick it up just by being in and around the squad, watching how we prepare for games and deal with the pressure. There’s no better place to learn that than at Manchester United. The young lads who have arrived at the club or come up through the youth ranks have all got huge amounts of ability and, at different times of the season, they’ve all stood up and played their part. No matter what happens this season they’ll end up better for it. The experience they’ll gain will be invaluable and stand them in good stead for years to come. Of course, we just hope we can give them the best experience of all and finish off the job and win the league.
What’s been really impressive this season is the way the team has bounced back from disappointments...
The club prides itself on how well we do that. You’re always going to have setbacks during the season. What’s important is how you deal with them, how you come back. You have to come back stronger and we’ve managed to do that this season on most occasions.
I imagine one or two of your team-mates may have voted for you in the Player of the Year awards. Are you happy with how this season’s gone?
Yeah, I’m happy with my form but I won’t be happy if we finish second in the league. You have good spells and bad spells during the season and, overall, I’m