Manchester United hitting top gear says Carrick

Michael Carrick feels Manchester United are starting to hit top form at just the right time.

After appearing to struggle for the first half of the campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson's men have suddenly clicked into gear.

A Carling Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City was followed by a memorable triumph at Arsenal and, last night in the San Siro, United made a clear statement of intent by completing their first away win in five attempts against AC Milan.

A tough trip to Everton is looming in the Premier League, when victory would take the Red Devils two points clear of title rivals Chelsea - for a short time at least.

It is starting to look good for Ferguson and his players, with Carrick confirming confidence is rising.

"We are playing well at the moment and scoring a lot of goals," said the England midfielder, who will miss the second leg against Milan in three weeks after being sent off in injury time last night for his second yellow card.

"Even after the bad start last night (Ronaldinho's early goal) we were still confident that we could get a grip of the game and control a lot of the play.

"We played some good stuff in the second half and could have scored more.

"We were the ones looking more likely to increase our lead towards the end.

"It didn't quite work out like that but we were reasonably pleased with the way it turned out."

Instead of United adding to their tally, it was AC Milan who struck late on.

The Italians are clinging to the hope that Clarence Seedorf's late effort can set the scene for a memorable comeback at Old Trafford in three weeks' time.

Yet that would require a piece of history, given United have never lost by two goals at home in a European game and only twice were beaten by the 3-2 scoreline that would take the tie into extra-time.

"You would probably say we are favourites to go through but we know how important the start of the next game is," said Carrick.

"If we can get the next goal we will be in a great position but as things stand at the moment it's still in the balance.

"We have got to make sure we perform again at Old Trafford."

The key, not just for United but England as well, is Wayne Rooney.

There is little doubt now that Rooney is starting to be bracketed with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka as one of the world's best players.

The Merseysider took his goal tally for the season to 25 with a couple of well-taken second-half headers last night and Carrick does not argue with Ferguson's opinion that AC Milan's veteran defenders just could not handle the 24-year-old.

"Wayne was brilliant," said Carrick.

"He was causing all sorts of trouble for their back four.

"Being up there on his own is not easy. But of late he has been phenomenal.

"I would say now he is amongst the best players in the world and he seems to be getting better and better.

"Players like him have the ability to really influence big games.

"He is scoring goals now as well as setting them up. His overall play is phenomenal."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links