Style is nothing, winning is everything - Carrick
Michael Carrick claims Manchester United's players and supporters must accept the reality of life after Alex Ferguson, with the England midfielder insisting that winning under Louis van Gaal is the only way to move on from the past.
With Van Gaal's football philosophy under intense scrutiny following a run of three consecutive scoreless draws last month, the frustration of supporters came to a head during Tuesday's narrow 1-0 Champions League victory against CSKA Moscow, when the second-half decision to replace forward Anthony Martial with Marouane Fellaini prompted widespread boos from the Old Trafford crowd.
Having been subjected to chants of "attack, attack, attack" from kick-off, Van Gaal ultimately oversaw a more adventurous performance against the Russian league leaders, with Wayne Rooney's 79th-minute goal winning the game and defusing the tensions inside the stadium.
But with former players such as Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Andrei Kanchelskis fuelling the fire by criticising the cautious nature of Van Gaal's United blueprint, Carrick admits that negativity will always surround the club unless they are winning games.
"It's about winning, isn't it?" Carrick said. "Winning games and winning trophies. There is a lot made of tactics and things at the minute but, as players, we can't get too involved in that. We just do what the manager tells us.
"If you win 1-0, the tactics don't get discussed that much. That's the way of things. It's fine lines, isn't it? People like to talk about tactics a lot more now than they did in the past, but different managers have different systems and the way they set the teams up. That's just the nature of the game.
"Obviously, our game is based on possession and dominating teams with possession but, at the end of the day, you have to score. That's the name of the game. There are things, as a team, that we do differently to how we did them in the past but, to me, that's just obvious when you have a new manager and he has different beliefs."
Having overcome CSKA at Old Trafford, United moved to the top of Group B ahead of the visit of PSV Eindhoven later this month, when another victory would confirm qualification for the knockout stages. But with the likes of Scholes calling into question the style and flair of United under Van Gaal, Carrick admits that the team were subjected to similar criticisms, even when Scholes was playing in Ferguson's sides of recent years.
"I remember nights when it didn't go well or we got beat," Carrick said.
"There were nights like that, it's just how it is. It's how people remember things, isn't it? Your childhood was always great, wasn't it?
"It's easy to do that and everyone is guilty of that, players as well, but there is always pressure here, every time you put a shirt on and play.
"People will always look to judge you and that will never change, but there is nothing wrong with that.
"We know as players what we have to focus on. There is nothing wrong with those comments [from Scholes] because people are there to have opinions. You have to take the rough with the smooth and, if you accept the pats on the back, you have to accept the criticism, too.
"For me, what he (Scholes) said doesn't bother me. I have respect for Scholesy and that isn't going to change. It's not an issue really.
"But it's our job to play. That's why we are at this great club. If you can't handle it or don't want it then go and play somewhere else." (© Daily Telegraph, London)