Manchester United coach Michael Carrick has praised the decision to undergo a mid-season training break in Dubai, telling us that it allows for a different and more detailed approach to training.
The 37-year-old, who has been reunited with former colleagues Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mike Phelan in his first season after retiring as a player, explained that the climate in the Middle East enables the staff to focus on more detailed sessions.
“It’s fantastic. It allows us to train in a way where you probably can’t do it at home, at this moment, with it being so cold,” reported Carrick.
“We can work on different things. When it’s freezing cold at home, you’ve got to keep on the move and you don’t want the lads standing around too much.
“So here we’ll work hard, especially over the next few days, and prepare for Sunday, but it allows us to maybe spend a little bit more time on the training ground and go into a little bit more detail, which we need at this moment.
“As you can imagine, it’s quite a happy camp. When you're winning football matches, you can’t put a price on the feeling that gives you, and the confidence and the belief.
“You almost sense a calmness when you’re winning games. It’s great to see the lads enjoying themselves. The football’s flowing, the training’s good, they’re bouncing around the place, and it’s nice to see.”
Carrick also revealed his debt to fellow coach Kieran McKenna, as well as the impact made by Mike Phelan, who has been a vital part of United’s upturn in form over the Christmas and New Year period.
“I must say Kieran has been a big help, because he’s an experienced coach and he’s helped me out,” confessed the former midfielder.
“As you’d expect, for me, it’s quite new and I am learning on the job a little bit, and he’s been fantastic. He’s a terrific coach and he’s passed on a lot of things already to me. Even though he’s younger than me, he’s a lot more experienced on this side of things.
“It’s nice to see Mike. He’s the calm, wise head really around the place now. He’s been there, he’s seen and done it all, especially at this club with the ins and outs, he knows exactly what to do at the right time, so he’s had a big influence over the last few weeks.”
“Ole’s got that personality that rubs off on everybody, he’s so positive, he’s so upbeat all the time. I think you can see that rubbing off on individuals, and that goes a long way to bringing the best out of the players.”
“He was having trouble with injuries a little bit, at the time, but his first goal back at Charlton away was actually my debut, so we were talking about that the other day,“ recalled Michael.There’s a photo of that knocking about somewhere, when he taps one in at the back post. His attitude to training, to playing, was the the thing that I remember most, and how high his football intelligence was, and how much you take into the game from learning and talking about the game. His dedication was top drawer.
Solskjaer’s final goal for the club came later that same season, when he added the fourth in a scintillating second-half comeback against Blackburn Rovers, 18 minutes after Carrick had first put United into the lead.
“That was a good game, actually,” the ex-midfielder remembers.
“We were 1-0 down at half-time and ended up winning 4-1 in the end, and I managed to score as well. We were chasing the league, so to be 1-0 down at half-time [was difficult].
“I remember thinking at half-time that we were up against it a little bit but in the second half, we came out and blew them away, and Ole got on the scoresheet. It didn’t happen very often for me, so I do remember it!”
Putting in a shift Gallery
Check out these exclusive pics as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad work through a second day of warm-weather training.
“It’s very different!”he admits.
“It’s a big change and the working hours are very different now, something you probably take for granted as a player. You just turn up when everything is done for you. So I’m on the other side and I’m really enjoying it. The preparation and analysis side of things, and trying to get the best out of the players. It’s a challenge because it’s new, but I’m really enjoying it.”