Daily briefing: Carrick's key message to players
Manchester United coach Michael Carrick has reiterated that one of the key messages from the staff to the players is simply to express themselves.
Echoing weekend comments made by Bruno Fernandes about what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told him upon his arrival, it is clear that the coaching team are determined for the individuals to show no fear when pulling on the red shirt.
Carrick, who was speaking as part of an exclusive interview in United Review, the official matchday programme, also explained the importance of playing attacking football in the club's best traditions.
“We want the boys to express themselves,” said Carrick, ahead of the Emirates FA Cup fifth-round meeting with his former club. “There is real talent in the group and we just want them to express themselves. We play well when we play a certain way and I thought you couldn’t fault the boys against Southampton [recently] because there were so many good things in the performance.
“Whether that’s against 10 or 11 men, is not so much a factor, as the things we are looking for you could see in abundance. As staff, we were delighted, but more delighted for the players. Going into a game like that, which was a tough one going into it, and to produce a performance like they did was a credit to them.”
There have been signs that the full-backs are becoming key weapons in the search for goals but Carrick just feels the team in general is capable of pushing forward to good effect and breaking the opposition down, even when they sit back and defend.
“I just think the team is developing and we keep trying to add certain things in some ways but it’s down to the boys as well,” he added. “It’s down to the individuals. We fully believe in what the boys are capable of and the potential they still have and that encouragement, as Ole says a lot, is for them to express themselves.
“There is a balance, of course there is. You can’t have the whole team in the box. There is a balance to be had. We want to attack with numbers, be exciting and play quick football. Thankfully, we’ve managed to do that.”
Carrick believes it will be an entertaining tie in the 19:30 GMT kick-off at Old Trafford, which must be decided on the night.
“They have had some fantastic results and David [Moyes] has got them playing really well,” he commented. “They gave us a really tough game down there, not so long ago, but we managed to pull through. Obviously, they’ve managed to get results pretty much against everybody and it will be a tough game.
“They have a mixture of attributes – strength, pace and power – and they’ve got some guile in there as well. It’s a big challenge for us as I’m sure they are looking forward to coming up and putting themselves up against us. However, obviously, we’re looking forward to it just as much.”
WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?
It is all about the FA Cup tie with the Hammers and the opportunity to reach the quarter-finals. There is one other game in the competition taking place tonight – Burnley's home game with managerless Bournemouth at 17:30 GMT.
We'll have the confirmed teams from Old Trafford around an hour before kick-off and top coverage in the Official App and on ManUtd.com as the Reds strive to reach the last eight.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY