Memory of drop spurs Carrick
Michael Carrick has never lost a Premier League title race with United - the England midfielder has been a champion every year since he signed from Tottenham in the summer of 2006. He has yet to suffer the pain of a losing fight for the league crown but he won't become blasé as he seeks an historic fourth success in a row. Carrick uses the bitter memories of a failed relegation battle and an FA Cup final defeat as his spur to fire him to more glory with the Reds. The 28-year-old was part of the West Ham side which suffered the drop in 2003 and six days after his debut title win at Old Trafford he tasted defeat against Chelsea at Wembley in the 2007 Cup Final. Those agonies enabled him to quickly buy into United's winning mentality. "What helped me a lot, after winning the league for the first time, was being beaten in the FA Cup final by Chelsea. That brings you back down to earth pretty quickly," Carrick explained. "Straight after that I was thinking I want to be a winner. "I don't want this feeling of losing a final again. That helped me. From then on, when you do win something it becomes a natural thing to look to the next one. "You become even more determined to win it because you know how tough it is to lose. I have also been relegated with West Ham so I always remember that as well and it provides a stark reminder of the other side of the coin. "I think about it quite regularly. It keeps coming back and hitting me. It was a big thing for me. It was a sobering experience. "So no matter how much title success I have enjoyed with United it is easy to remember some bad times as well to keep your feet on the ground and not take things for granted." United's next step on Carrick's latest pursuit of the league crown comes against Bolton tomorrow tea-time. The visit to the Reebok is sandwiched between a heavyweight fixture list for the Reds. Last Sunday it was Liverpool and next Saturday is the critical Old Trafford clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford. United also have a Champions League date in Germany with Bayern Munich next Tuesday. But Carrick insists there will be no lack of concentration on Wanderers. "Bolton is a tough game at any time to be honest. Focus is not a problem," he added. "Every match now is so important and huge. That is the main focus. "When you are so close to the end of the season and you are really fighting, the focus and motivation is not the problem at this club. "We know it is so important to not get carried away. We cannot afford to look ahead. If you start looking forward four or five matches ahead then it will come back and bite you. You will shoot yourself in the foot doing that. "It is a step at a time. We cannot think of Bayern or Chelsea yet. If we don't get the result at Bolton we won't be going into those games the way we want to be." While this Premier League dogfight has been the closest of his four with United, Carrick says his first was still the toughest. "I think my first title run-in was the hardest because I knew I was so close to a great achievement. It was mentally tough. I was desperate to get over the line and win it. "But this one is definitely the closest." :: CARRICK was talking to M.E.N. Sport at the launch of Manchester United Foundation's Premier League Enterprise Academy project. The Foundation has received funding from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to run the Enterprise Academy for two years. The project aims to give youngsters an insight into the running of an exciting multi- national business. It educates pupils on the inner workings of a football club.
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