Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled Michael Carrick as the key to Manchester United achieving success this season.
The 31-year-old will be entering his seventh season at Old Trafford and Ferguson feels the midfielder's influence has mushroomed to the point where his form will determine their campaign.
Carrick is traditionally known as a slow starter but in the elegant midfielder, Ferguson acknowledges he has a player that can match the rest of the Premier League's powerhouses.
"Carrick is the key to it," said Ferguson. "He always denies it but has slow starts (to a season).
"By the time he gets to December he starts playing consistently well and he had a really good end of the season last year.
"If you look at the central midfielders in the Premier League - (Luka) Modric, Yaya Toure and Steven Gerrard, depending on where you play him - he can match up against any of them in terms of quality.
"He can read the game and also play in front of the back four. In the modern game you don't need tacklers the way you used to.
"It's all about anticipation and reading the game."