Paul Pogba's Manchester derby salvo has filled Michael Carrick with optimism ahead of his retirement from professional football
Gary Neville sat down with midfielder Michael Carrick for a wide-ranging chat, with his former Manchester United team-mate discussing his Old Trafford career, England, life after football, his new foundation, his relationship with Paul Pogba and just how good Man City really are.
United boss Jose Mourinho confirmed in January that Carrick will retire at the end of the season and join the club’s coaching staff after 12 hugely successful years at Old Trafford.
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The 36-year-old, who joined United from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2006, has won five Premier Leagues, Champions and Europa League, FA Cup, three League Cups and the FIFA World Club Cup during his time at the club.
With Carrick now preparing to finally hang up his boots after a glittering 19-year playing career, including winning 36 England caps, he has opened up to the Sky Sports pundit and one-time team-mate on a whole host of subjects…
NEVILLE: Do you feel like you’ve had the credit, generally from the game, that you deserve for being such a great player?
CARRICK: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know, it doesn’t really bother me Gaz. Outside you get credit and praise and it makes you feel good, puts a spring in your step, but really the ceiling was the manager. If I was playing at Old Trafford and felt as though I was contributing and winning things, that was enough for me.
NEVILLE: You’re about to set up a foundation, tell us about that?
CARRICK: Growing up as a kid, I played for Wallsend Boys Club, a famous boys club. I had such a good childhood and upbringing there. Since I became a professional I always thought I needed to give something back.
I’m doing things in Manchester with the Trafford Sports Park in partnership with the Manchester United foundation and I’m also doing things in Newcastle as well. It’s something I’m passionate about. I had a great childhood and was fortunate to have that on my doorstep, somewhere where I could play in a safe environment and enjoy playing football.
NEVILLE: A lot of players when they get to the end of their careers, particularly ones that have played at the level you have, have gone into the media. You are going down the coaching route. Is that something you are passionate about and really want to focus on?
CARRICK: It is now, three or four years ago I probably wouldn’t have thought I’d go down that route. It wasn’t until I started my coaching badges that I found that I enjoyed it.
NEVILLE: And do you want to be a manager, eventually?
CARRICK: Eventually, I think so. It looks easier than it obviously is! But of course it’s not easy. There is an element that keeps nagging away at me in games where I think what I would do, what would I change etc.
NEVILLE: Paul Pogba mentioned that you’d had an influence on him after the Manchester derby. Are you starting to take more responsibility and what advice did you give him?
CARRICK: I just kept it simple and said ‘this is what you are’ and ‘this is what you’re good at’. Listen, he scored two goals, so it’s not down to me.
NEVILLE: But he mentioned you, didn’t he? You must have had an impact?
CARRICK: Yes, I’m glad I did obviously because it showed little things do register with players.
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NEVILLE: What does Manchester United mean to you as you come to the end of your career?
CARRICK: When I signed here my life changed. I thought I was doing things right, I thought I trained right and looked after myself, but when I came here I saw the level jump. I feel fortunate, grateful and proud because I’ve done it and earned it.
But things don’t always go your way, so to be here for so long and to be here in a different role next year makes me feel really proud.
NEVILLE: There has been a lot of talk about how good Manchester City are and how they compare to the ‘Invincibles’ – where do the teams you’ve played in sit among those great sides?
CARRICK: Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ was an unbelievable achievement. Your ’99 team was outrageous to do the Treble. For us, we hit a high level, but the most satisfying thing is that we kept that high level over a period of two, three four years.
We were right up there; three Champions League finals in four years and we won five leagues out of seven, losing one by a point and one by goal difference. I don’t know how you judge it, but I was fortunate to be a part of it, it was a great time.
NEVILLE: With England there was always the Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes debate, but you didn’t get a mention among that. Do you feel a little bit disappointed about that scenario?
CARRICK: There are two sides to it. There’s a part where I feel I was playing well enough to warrant a place in the team and I didn’t get picked. And there were times when I did play and I came off thinking I’d let myself down a little bit.
You can have it all ways. But I never really felt part of it. I felt part of the squad, but I never really felt part of the team.
NEVILLE: How would you like to be remembered as a player?
CARRICK: One that gave everything he had and a team player, that is the most important thing for me, to have the respect of my team-mates.
The praise is great, but it’s more the trust and respect from my team-mates that has always meant more to me.
Watch Gary Neville’s full interview with Michael Carrick ahead of Man Utd v West Bromwich Albion from 3.30pm on Sunday