You don’t become European champions three times without having a knack of winning key games when you’re not at 100% though Manchester United vice-captain Michael Carrick believes his club’s best is close by.
United have opened their season with two Premier League wins, scoring a solitary goal in each but importantly not conceding.
Now with their Champions League fate in their own hands in the playoff round – United face Club Brugge of Belgium – the midfielder says it’s time for the Manchester outfit to forget the hurt of not qualifying for the competition for the first time in 19 years last season.
“It’s going to be a big night on Tuesday. It’ll be a big two games in fact – they could help set us up for the season,” he told United’s website.
“What we have to gain is very important, but you approach both matches as any other games. We want to win on Tuesday and not concede. Hopefully we can get a good start and take a lead to their place. We’ll be ready,” he added, going on to state the importance of three points each time out domestically to help a side’s morale in Europe.
“These games are vital for us to win. Last season we weren’t winning them so it’s a good sign. There is a lot more to come from us, we expect more and we hope for some better performances. Hopefully next time we get the full package.”
United are inevitably still in a transitional phase with manager Louis van Gaal just over 12 months into his role at Old Trafford and new summer signings acclimatising to the enormity of the club – and task – at hand.
Dutchman Van Gaal – a European Cup winning coach in the 1990s – has seen too much football however to downplay the significance of early season victories, especially after United’s slow league start last term.
“I think when you win two times then you shall have a lot of confidence,” he said, adding he hoped his team would find their scoring boots to make the defence’s life easier.
“But every match is difficult and Belgian teams can play very compactly, they can defend and a team always has a chance of winning.
“Like on [Friday, against Aston Villa], every team has a chance and if they score out of that chance then it shall be very difficult.”
In United’s favour? A favourable past record over Belgian opposition, having outscored them 18-1 in three previous encounters even if they are facing Brugge for the first time.
Main image courtesy of bwin via YouTube, with thanks.