Michael Carrick reckons that Manchester United have changed Jose Mourinho.
There were some doubts in the corridors of power at Old Trafford whether the Portuguese would follow the United traditions laid down by Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson when the club was looking at candidates to succeed Louis van Gaal last year.
But while the Reds are still languishing in sixth place in the Premier League – despite a 17-game unbeaten run – Carrick insists that Mourinho is a different beast to built up a reputation as a staunch pragmatist at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Carrick said: “I think the manager has adapted to United traditions – and he’s admitted that himself.
“That is credit to the manager. Of course, you have to play to the strengths of the players you have, but in the background he has a philosophy of what he wants to achieve.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. Before the manager came I was intrigued to see what he would be like and how he would cope with things at United.
“You could tell right from the start that he is a winner.
“It is still all about winning with Jose Mourinho.
“But there is also a certain way he wants to play now, which is maybe a little different to what his teams have been known for in the past.
“He’s a bit more attacking, if you like.
“I think it has worked. For the run we’ve gone on and how we have played, to still be sixth is disappointing.
“We feel that we are closer points-wise to the others, but there’s no doubt that we should be higher in the table.”
United’s last Premier League defeat came at Chelsea in October.
The 4-0 humbling was a sobering experience for Mourinho at his former club – and he criticised Blues’ boss Antonio Conte for celebrating so wildly on the touchline.
As United prepare to return to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup tomorrow night, Carrick revealed that the new boss does not copy Ferguson’s hairdryer approach during time as crisis.
He said: “The manager is quite calm and calculating, especially at half-time.
“He thinks about it and plans it out. He does everything.
Mourinho faces the press after drawing 1-1 with FC Rostov
“He has been known for some time not to be afraid in making changes and not being afraid.
“Some managers let the game drift and hope the players on the pitch can change it, but the boss reacts and makes changes when he feels he needs to.
“A couple of times he has brought me off at half-time for whatever reasons, but he is there to make those types of decisions.
“His personality is what I thought it would be.
“What you see is not always what you get when you are looking at it from a distance.
“But he is very calm the whole time. He knows where he is going and wants to go to and the targets he has set.
“For me the biggest thing is that he wants to win and win trophies and won’t stop.
“If you want to be a top manager you have to have that desire to win. The buck stops with him.”
Despite United’s struggles to break into the top four, they are still on course for a Treble.
Mourinho became the first manager in the club’s history to win a trophy in his first season when they clinched the ELF Cup at Wembley a fortnight ago.
The 1-1 draw in Rostov on Thursday afternoon gave them a great chance of reaching the last eight of the Europa League.
And Chelsea stand in the way of an FA Cup quarter-final.
But Carrick said: “If anyone in the dressing room started talking about what we could win then you would have to shoot that down.
“It is so dangerous to get ahead of yourself.
“Of course it doesn’t stop you thinking in the back of your mind that there is target to achieve that, but to start to trying to predict what it would be like if you did this or that could be quite dangerous.
“You have to concentrate on the next game, the next week.
“If you start thinking about the trophies that you can win and count them off too early then it tends to come back and bite you.
“To be honest there has been no talk about that in the dressing room. It is step by step.
“We enjoyed beating Southampton at Wembley, but then we moved on.
“The last time we played at Chelsea it was a bad day for us. It started badly and just got worse.
“But this is a different occasion. They are playing well and we respect that, but we are better now as well. Much better.”
Michael Carrick’s Testimonial takes place at Old Trafford on Sunday, June 4. Tickets for Man Utd ’08 XI v Michael Carrick All-Stars from Www.manutd.com/carricktestimonial 0161 868 8004. All proceeds to Www.michaelcarrickfoundation.org