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Michael Carrick: Manchester United belong in the Champions League

by Leo Nieboer

Michael Carrick has emphasised the importance of Manchester United playing in the Champions League every year ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Sevilla.

Jose Mourinho‘s men can take a big step towards the quarter finals with a win over the fifth placed La Liga side in Spain.

Man United have only progressed to the Champions League last eight on one occasion since 2011 – under David Moyes, funnily enough, in 2014 before being knocked out by Bayern Munich.

And Carrick, speaking ahead of United’s visit to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, made it clear that this was where they belonged and needed to stay.

“It’s what we should expect of ourselves – to be at this stage of the Champions League,” he said.

“That’s not being blasé, it’s just that should be our standard. We should be in this competition and fighting in the later stages most years.

“This is where we belong and, however this year pans out, this has to be the standard year in, year out.”

Perhaps the Champions League will see a different sort of United team compared to the quivering, disjointed outfit that recently succumbed to defeats at Wembley and St James’ Park.

Under the international microscope, grounded in weeks of preparation, the game divided into small, crucial segments, a true war of attrition to see who blinks first – this truly is Mourinho’s habitat.

And he will be expected to deliver. Liverpool and Manchester City have already booked their places in the last eight with emphatic away wins, while Tottenham Hotspur can take immense confidence from a 2-2 draw with Juventus in Turin.

The bar has been set, so to speak, and supporters will be hoping to see a Mourinho masterclass at a time when United need to make a statement to those around them in the league as well as in Europe.

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