Carrick accepts Scholes criticism of 'boring' Man Utd

Paul Hirst 5/11/2015
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Pensive: Michael Carrick.

Michael Carrick has not lost any respect for Paul Scholes despite his withering criticism of Manchester United’s performances under Louis van Gaal.

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Scholes, who won 11 league titles during a glittering United career, has become disenchanted with the team’s style of play under their current manager.

The former midfielder renewed his attack on Van Gaal on Tuesday night, claiming United had become “boring” to watch under the Dutchman.

“It’s just a sideways, possession, boring style of football and you have to say, does he have a problem with forward players?’’ the 40-yearold said prior to the 1-0 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow.

Carrick insists the United players must accept criticism – regardless of where it comes from. And it appears the 34-year-old’s relationship with Scholes has not been tarnished by his former teammate’s remarks.

“For me, what he (Scholes) said doesn’t bother me,” said Carrick, who played alongside Scholes in the United midfield for six years.

“I have respect for Scholesy and that isn’t going to change. It’s not an issue really. There are so many opinions out there. If you start worrying about what people are saying about you on TV or in the papers then you are in trouble.

“We know as players what we have to focus on. There is nothing wrong with those comments. People are there to have opinions. That’s fine.

“You have to take the rough with the smooth and if you accept the pats on the back then you have to accept the criticism when it comes.”

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#360view: Liverpool return for Gerrard is the last thing Klopp needs

Alex Rea 5/11/2015
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Returning son?: Gerrard.

There was always sense amid the tears and the farewells, that all the pomp and circumstance was a little premature.

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Steven Gerrard is back in the UK after the first season of his American adventure ended in heartache with LA Galaxy’s play-off defeat against the Seattle Sounders. Invariably, talk has now turned towards a Liverpool return for the former skipper. But is it wise, no matter the capacity, for both parties?

Jurgen Klopp’s arrival has brought with it a background of heavy metal noise and after the defeat of Chelsea the volume was turned up another notch. Now what the German needs is some quiet to continue the rebuild and that won’t be helped with talk of a Gerrard return.

It’s a possibility that has been met with mixed feelings from Anfield supporters, too.

On the one hand it’s an arrangement that could be mutually beneficial. While Klopp would be helping the Liverpool legend maintain his fitness during the off-season, his presence would prove a useful reminder to the youngsters in the squad – with more getting a realistic chance to impress now – that certain standards need to be met if success is to be realised.

It’s that presence, though, which could cause the noise Klopp would do well to avoid. What happens for instance if Lucas Leiva or Joe Allen get injured and training with the squad is Gerrard? You can guarantee the first question in the next press conference would be on the midfielder and whether a contract is forthcoming.

That’s even before you take into consideration the demands Klopp places on his players physically. Gerrard’s legs have gone and when you add his reputation as a footballer who is not easy to manage, a playing role is surely out of the question, too.

That leaves a comeback in a coaching capacity and even that’s not advisable. Making the transition after a career at the top is never smooth, never mind at the pressure cooker that is Anfield. He would learn far more by helping out somewhere else before making the return.

Gerrard is said to be taken aback by three elements of playing in the MLS: the long journeys from West to East, playing on artificial turf and the humidity. Largely, he seems to have enjoyed his time in LA but it’s clear he still yearns for English football.

While it’d be a little unsettling to see Gerrard take up an offer from another Premier League club to play there again, that shouldn’t be the reason to bring him back. The farewell should stay that. At least for the time being.

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#360view: City show new-found maturity

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Growing up fast: Manchester City.

Vincent Kompany has witnessed all 28 of Manchester City’s games in the Champions League since first earning their place at Europe’s top table in 2011.

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His view that Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Sevilla was “probably our best performance” in the competition therefore comes with a considerable degree of authority and is more than just lip service.

Manchester City, and not just in terms of results, have been a disappointment in the Champions League, unable to replicate their powerful, domineering performances of the Premier League. It has, on many occasions, been like watching a totally different side.

After the loss to Juventus on Matchday 1, it was a case of same old story as a contest they led finished in a 2-1 defeat. But three games later and they are now into the last 16.

Granted, it has not been without further drama as they rode their luck at times in Monchengladbach before Sergio Aguero’s last-minute penalty winner. Kevin De Bruyne was also on hand to provide a 90th minute strike to overcome Sevilla two weeks ago.

Two games that could so easily have been draws and Group D would be taking on a very different complexion. But bad sides don’t tend to score last-minute goals to win games, especially not in Europe, and while opposing fans may be quick to prefix City’s progress as “fortunate”, there’s a reason all the best teams tend to get lucky.

True to Kompany’s assessment, Tuesday night at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan showed City at their best, and not just in continental competition.

The visitors, without Sergio Aguero and David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne playing just 17 minutes, took 22 shots to Sevilla’s 11. The Andalucians having won their three previous league games at home, including a 2-1 victory over Barcelona. 

City were in control – at both ends – and it was a marked departure from previous encounters, filled with trepidation.

“We weren’t naive, we were solid,” was another telling revelation by Kompany. With Fernandinho bossing midfield, and the defensive unit impressive, in returning to a traditional ‘British style’, City’s foreign legion delivered their most complete display yet.

Manuel Pellegrini appears to have taken the shackles off in recent weeks, in more ways than one. Domestically they are, when the occasion suits, scoring goals at will: six against Newcastle and five against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth. But at the same time there is a degree of solidity, maybe sparked by Aguero’s injury or the 4-1 loss at Spurs. 

The goalless Manchester derby was tedious at best but it was City’s first clean sheet for eight matches. They went into the game looking a little vulnerable but it could prove to be an important building block in the evolution of their season. Pellegrini’s almost legendary tactical stubborness is slowly slipping. City are finding a different way to play.

Pragmatism, as ugly as it may seem, is a necessary evil at times. What is crucial now is to secure top spot in the group. Never mind the glamour of Barca, Madrid or Bayern, they can wait. City need a winnable tie to build on this momentum and confidence.

Juve reached the semi-finals last year beating a poor Dortmund side and then Monaco over two legs. With such enhanced belief, a group of players that had previously underperformed in Europe, then reached the final. Sound familiar?

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