Friday, February 29, 2008

THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE




United's midfield is under the spotlight for its quality and sheer strength in numbers. But although there's stiff competition for places, the camaraderie doesn't suffer, as Inside United's interview with Carrick, Hargreaves and Park shows...

Who is the most difficult player to play against?

MC: Scholesy in training!
OH : Seriously, he’s the best around. But there are different types of players, some where you know you’re going to have to be at the top of your game. Sometimes playing teams at the bottom of the league can be harder because they’re onto you all game, whereas the best teams give you more time on the ball. Some of the most gifted don’t always want to defend - Zidane for instance - but he’s one of the best I’ve ever played against. Good players find space and time when there is none, and no-one’s better at that than Scholesy. The best footballers also slow the game down - even if it’s very hectic - they can put their foot on the ball.
MC: That’s a very important element of our game.

You’ve all experienced injuries in the last season or two - it must be frustrating to pick up a knock when you’re trying to cement a place in the team?
MC: Ji’s been out longer than most. [laughs] You answer this one Ji…
JSP: It is very difficult. When you get an injury you work alone in the gym; you don’t see any friends. You have to keep doing the same things but you just have to keep thinking about what it’s like when you get back.
OH: I’m shocking at watching games.
JSP : I feel uncomfortable and wonder why I’m just watching and sitting there.
MC: Me too. It’s so frustrating. It doesn’t matter what injury it is, whether it lasts three weeks or a few months, you know you’re going to be missing out and you’re not with the boys day in, day out. It’s hard to take but it’s part of the game, so you have to find a way of dealing with it.

Are you finding it easier to get involved now you speak the language, Ji? You mentioned in a previous interview that you didn't always understand the jokes in the dressing room, has that changed?

JSP : [laughs] No, not really! I enjoy speaking English and I am getting better but it’s not enough yet.
MC: You’re kidding, aren’t you?
OH: He’s hammering Patrice [Evra] every day!

What would constitute a successful season this year?

OH: To win as much as possible. We would like success in everything and people often say that, but it’s hard to do it all. It’s not that easy to win the Champions League and we have to be on top of our game between now and May to do that.
MC: Getting some more nice easy draws in the FA Cup would help our cause no end!

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