United's Carrick feeling his age
Michael Carrick has admitted he suddenly feels old following the revolution that has taken place inside the Manchester United dressing room. Since the beginning of January, three elder statesmen have retired in Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar, one - Owen Hargreaves - has been released and two more have been sold to Sunderland in the form of Wes Brown and John O'Shea. All six have celebrated their 30th birthday and with two of the three new faces - Phil Jones and David de Gea - yet to pass 21, the difference in experience is vast. Carrick is one of the players Sir Alex Ferguson will turn to as United try navigating the transition. He turned 30 himself on Thursday and accepts the landscape at Old Trafford has changed. "The dressing room is a little bit strange," he said. "I certainly feel a bit older. It is good though. The energy and enthusiasm the younger lads bring is brilliant and training has been really good. "The guys who have left are top players but we have to move on. We will certainly do that this season. Hopefully we can improve on what we achieved last year." So often underestimated by United observers, Carrick's five seasons with the Red Devils make pretty impressive reading. Four Premier League titles, three Champions League finals and a semi, two Carling Cups. Next Sunday at Wembley he will compete in his fifth Community Shield when United take on Manchester rivals City at Wembley. Yet this record has got somewhat obscured. Carrick's form, which dropped below his normal high standards last term, was one of the reasons. More so, the former West Ham star's presence in that comprehensive Champions League final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley. United were outplayed that night, Carrick one of the men who failed to make a significant impression in a midfield that was completely overrun. That the Red Devils must now face up to the same opposition, albeit without Lionel Messi, new arrival Alexis Sanchez, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves, meaning seven of the side that started at Wembley will be present. Not that Carrick is going to spend much time worrying about that. Like everyone else, he acknowledges the Catalan giants were worthy winners. Now he knows the work has to start in order to catch up. "You have to look forward," he said. "It is not forgotten. It is something that drives you on. Setbacks like that are the things that stick out when you look back. "The negatives stand out, not the positives and that one is something we are pretty keen to put right."
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