Manchester United coach Michael Carrick has called on his players to "express themselves" as they face his former club West Ham United in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday evening.
“There is real talent in the group and we just want them to express themselves," he told the club matchday magazine. "We play well when we play a certain way and I thought you couldn’t fault the boys against Southampton [recently] because there were so many good things in the performance.
“Whether that’s against 10 or 11 men, is not so much a factor, as the things we are looking for you could see in abundance. As staff, we were delighted, but more delighted for the players. Going into a game like that, which was a tough one going into it, and to produce a performance like they did was a credit to them.”
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He also spoke about the team's ability to attack in numbers - and the need to balance that with maintaining shape in defence.
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“I just think the team is developing and we keep trying to add certain things in some ways but it’s down to the boys as well,” he added. “It’s down to the individuals. We fully believe in what the boys are capable of and the potential they still have and that encouragement, as Ole says a lot, is for them to express themselves.
“There is a balance, of course there is. You can’t have the whole team in the box. There is a balance to be had. We want to attack with numbers, be exciting and play quick football. Thankfully, we’ve managed to do that.”
Carrick expects a tough match against West Ham, and had words of praise for the style which David Moyes has instilled in his team.
“They have a mixture of attributes – strength, pace and power – and they’ve got some guile in there as well," he said.
"It’s a big challenge for us as I’m sure they are looking forward to coming up and putting themselves up against us. However, obviously, we’re looking forward to it just as much.”
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