The nights you live for
Michael Carrick says there is always something special in the air on a big European night at Old Trafford, insisting they are the occasions “you live for” as players.
Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid promises to be another memorable evening with the last 16 tie finely balanced at 1-1, although United do have a crucial away goal in their favour. Carrick says everyone involved with the club is looking forward Tuesday’s second leg and hopes the players can rise to the challenge.
“These are the nights you live for. There is just something in the air. Something special,” the midfielder told us. “Everyone comes with a spring in their step. Every supporter is that little bit more vocal. Everyone is a little bit more up for it.
“The fans appreciate how important it is and what it means to get through in this competition. And they can make a difference. On these European nights everyone seems to be that bit louder and more excited. Hopefully they can do their bit and we can do ours.
“Everyone is looking forward to it and can’t wait for the game to come. Hopefully we play like we know we can and get the result we want.”
One man everyone is talking about ahead of the match is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, who will make his first return to Old Trafford as an opposition player since his departure in 2009. Carrick says the players understand better than most about the qualities their former team-mate possesses, but insists the game is not just about one player.
“Cristiano has pretty much everything. He can shoot with both feet. He can cross with both feet. His ability on the ball is exceptional. He can maneouvre the ball and generate space for himself,” said Carrick. “We saw in the first leg how good he is in the air. You just have defend as best you can, work as a unit and help each other out.
“Both teams can attack well and we all have threats on the pitch that can create and score at any given time. That is the nature of the tie. Even though you might be defending well, you can never switch off – we had chances in the first leg and so did they. Either team could have won 2-1 or 3-1. It is who takes their chances on the night. We know we have to be at our very best to get a good result.”