Manchester United secured their place in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Thursday night, even after losing 2-1 to Hull City, who currently sit 19th in the Premier League.
The defeat means that United’s recent unbeaten streak comes to an end after the Red Devils lost their first match in 17 games.
Michael Carrick admitted it was a “strange night” as United lost, although went through on aggregate. The trip to Wembley takes place on the 26 February against an inspired Southampton side, who overcame a tricky tie against Liverpool to book their place in the final.
Carrick’s comments were to MUTV but reported by the official Manchester United website;
“It’s a bit of a strange feeling, if I’m honest. As a one-off game we’re very disappointed with losing but the bigger picture is we’re going to the cup final and we can take plenty of delight from that. So it’s a bit of a strange night.”
United’s performance was considered poor by most and former United man Phil Neville told Sky Sports that ‘it was a real poor performance from all of the United team. There wasn’t really a stand-out player’.
Paul Pogba’s goal sealed United’s place in the final, although his performance will no doubt be criticised. However, Carrick says that it was an important goal;
“I’m pleased for Paul to score. It was important we did score tonight, especially the way the game was going. It was a good finish from Paul, some good work down the left [from Marcus Rashford] and a good finish that put us in a good position.”
Pogba’s goal was so crucial because United conceded a controversial penalty in the first half, that Tom Huddlestone put away so calmly. Carrick believes it was important United didn’t let it affect them;
“Things like that can change the course of games; luckily it didn’t affect us and we’ve gone through.
“The close calls aren’t going our way at the moment. We haven’t had a penalty since Fenerbahce and we’ve only had three all season, I believe, but at some point our luck’s got to turn.
“We’re getting in good positions often enough and we just want reward for that, but we’re through and we’ll take that.”
United’s last two trips to Wembley have resulted in silverware, with United winning the FA Cup in May and the Community Shield in August. Carrick believes that those occasions will help United prepare for the final and believes they were special days that United can take confidence from.
One less ‘distraction’ I suppose you could call it, is United’s unbeaten streak, which came to an end against Hull. Now, United can fully concentrate on winning, rather than avoiding getting beat to keep the streak alive.
United’s performance last night stank of complacency. They were sloppy in possession, looked out of ideas creatively, and some players, in particular, Pogba looked tired. Hopefully, Mourinho rests some key men like Pogba and Ibrahimovic this weekend against Wigan and gives some players such as Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, a runout.