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."
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo: Unhappy forward is ready to quit Real Madrid, according to Angel Di Maria
Tim Wiese offered WWE role after German goalkeeper packs on muscle
Hull City vs West Ham match report: Enner Valencia stars as honours shared at the KC Stadium
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United: Ramon Calderon claims Real Madrid star is 'fed up'
Daley Blind: honesty of Louis van Gaal can be frightening, but I like it
- 1 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 3 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
- 4 Kanye West stops concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
- 5 QS university world rankings: Imperial College London leapfrogs Oxford to join Cambridge as best British university
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly