Sir Alex Ferguson believes Michael Carrick is the unsung hero of Manchester United's title challenge.
Carrick has been criticised by some fans since he moved from Tottenham in 2006, despite United winning four league titles and reaching three UEFA Champions League finals during his time at Old Trafford.
And Ferguson feels that the 30-year-old's renewed partnership with Paul Scholes has been key to United keeping pace with Manchester City in the title race.
Ferguson said: "He is doing that at the moment. His form for quite a while now has been absolutely superb. He and Scholesy are a good partnership.
"I know he disagrees but I always feel the second half of the season sees Michael at his best.
"Michael is not a guy that seeks a lot of publicity. He is a quiet lad. He goes about his life in a similar way to Paul Scholes. It doesn't mean to say he is not recognised by us."
Ferguson is also pleased to see Michael Owen return to training having spent four months on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
"Hopefully Michael can have a little bit of luck now because he has not had much of that at all," he added.
"His injuries have always been long-term but hopefully he will be back for the end of the season now, which would help us."