Red Devil’s midfielder Michael Carrick believes all eyes will be on Manchester next season as United and neighbours City go head to head in one of the most eagerly anticipated Premier League campaigns in recent years. Both teams fell short of expectations last term as City pipped United to Champions League football on goal difference as the two Manchester clubs finished level on 66 points each, a whopping 15 points behind surprise winners Leicester City. But United’s vice-captain insists the Reds will “certainly be better than last season”. Speaking to MUTV, Carrick said:
“It’s exciting and interesting, not just for us being involved but for everyone else looking in to see how it’s going to go.
“There will be a lot of focus on both clubs and we’ll battle it out to see who finishes on top. Both teams look in good shape with two top managers. We’ll certainly be better than last season and looking to be a lot stronger and getting back to the top.”
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were set to face off for the first time in charge of their respective Manchester clubs on Monday before the clash in Beijing was called off ‘due to recent weather events‘ meaning all eyes turn to the first league meeting between the two next season on 10th September at Old Trafford.
The Reds tour of China has been nothing short of a farce. Mourinho’s men played only one game in the Far East, the 4-1 defeat to Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. Embarrassing result aside, the pattern of the game clearly illustrated that one team had already played four pre-season matches prior to the match up in Shanghai. United had to deal with a plane diversion en route to Beijing and even had to move an arranged press conference outside due to excessive temperatures and the lack of air condition.
The five-time Premier League winner missed the defeat against Dortmund on Friday due to injury meaning he had no game time in China, however, got 45 minutes under his belt in the 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic earlier in the month. United now have just three ‘friendly’ games before the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season. A game against Turkish giants Galatasaray in Sweden this weekend before Wayne Rooney’s testimonial against Everton at Old Trafford and the Reds visit Wembley to face last season’s top-flight champions Leicester City in the Community Shield. Hardly the best of pre-seasons preparations.
Despite the farcical match preparations in China, Carrick added that the off-field aspects of the tour were beneficial.
“The Dortmund game was disappointing but training has gone well. It’s about getting your fitness work in and also getting to know the manager and the staff and the new players.”
Mourinho takes his Manchester United team to the south coast on the opening day of the Premier League season to face Bournemouth on the 14th August.