Premier League

Fergie hails unsung hero

United boss feels midfielder should warrant more praise

Carrick: Hailed by his manager

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Michael Carrick as the unsung hero of the team.

The 27-year-old has been in sensational form of late and his ability to unlock a tight defence with a single pass has proved priceless in United's march to the top of the Premier League.

Despite mostly being at the heart of all the good that the team does, the former Tottenham man rarely gets the credit he deserves for both club and country, with England manager Fabio Capello even leaving him out of some of his first squads.

But despite being undervalued by some sections of supporters Carrick can be safe in the knowledge that he has the backing of his boss as he heads back to the club where he began his career on Sunday.

"People have their favourites when you are supporting a club like United," Ferguson said.

"There are players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney, it is easy to declare your allegiance to the ones who are in the limelight all the time.

Quieter

"It has happened to quite a few in my time, especially the quieter ones.

"Denis Irwin gave me eight, nine out of ten every week but he never had the celebrity status of people like David Beckham or Eric Cantona.

"Michael Carrick may come into that category because football clubs are all the same."

The Scot urged that the England international improved all aspects of his game when he signed him from Spurs for £18.6million and the 67-year-old now feels he is reaping the rewards.

"Michael was already good enough for me to sign him because what he always had, from his young days at West Ham, was vision and a good range of passing that could open up defences," he highlighted.

"Since coming to United he has developed physically and improved tremendously in defensive terms.

"He fills positions really well and nips off threats going towards the back four.

"That is an area that maybe people don't recognise because they just expect him to be playing football and making passes.

"But overall he is an excellent player."