Carrick wants home comforts
United midfielder keen to take first-leg lead against Bilbao
Last Updated: March 7, 2012 9:12am
Michael Carrick: Looking to get back to winning ways at Old Trafford in Europe
Michael Carrick has been puzzled by Manchester United's home form in Europe this season and is looking to turn in a good performance against Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford on Thursday.
The Red Devils are normally formidable on their own turf but they have won just once - against Romanian unknowns Otelul Galati - in four European games this season.
They failed to hold on to a two-goal lead against Basel in September, which Sir Alex Ferguson felt cost them their UEFA Champions League place, and last month they almost threw away an aggregate three-goal lead to Ajax.
A clash with Bilbao now lies in store in the Europa League and Carrick recognises the importance of establishing a lead in Thursday's first leg, with the Spanish team's fine home record suggesting any deficit will be hard to turn around next week.
"I am not sure why our home form in Europe has not been so good," said Carrick.
"It is a tough one. We haven't quite performed compared to recent years, when our home form has been formidable.
"That is the reason why we are talking about the Europa League.
"Bilbao is a tough place to go so we need to perform well at home to give us a chance in the away leg."
While United have been mocked by some rival fans for their involvement in the Europa League after slipping out of the Champions League, Carrick is keen to go as far as possible in the tournament.
"The reaction is understandable," said Carrick.
"But we are professionals and we are in this tournament, playing for this great club.
"It doesn't take much motivation from the players' point of view. It is a competition we want to win.
"We are still desperate to go as far as we would do in the Champions League."