Michael Carrick: Manchester United coach admits uncertainty 'difficult' for players

"Everyone has got jobs to go back to and not knowing is the biggest issue," says Man Utd assistant coach Carrick

Manchester United midfielder Fred and assistant coach Michael Carrick
Image: Michael Carrick has been keeping up with the Manchester United squad during lockdown

Manchester United assistant coach Michael Carrick believes the uncertainty around the season's resumption is the "biggest challenge" for Premier League players during the lockdown.

Coronavirus has seen football in England suspended indefinitely since March, with little clarity from league organisers about how and when the season will return.

"That's the biggest challenge: not really having a return date," said Carrick, the former United midfielder, during the MUTV Group Chat on the club's official website.

"That's why we've tried to gradually increase training and we're just giving ourselves the best chance to be ready, if, and when, we start.

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"It's the same as everyone - it's not just about us and the players; it's about everyone, in every walk of life. Everyone has got jobs to go back to and not knowing is the biggest issue. You can't plan and you're not sure what's next.

"It can be difficult. We're just trying to make the best of it and the lads have been great with everything we've asked them to do. It's not easy and they've had to take the responsibility themselves and train on their own."

The United squad have been stepping up their fitness regimes at home recently, says Carrick, with the government set to lay out plans for the "second phase" of lockdown on Sunday.

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"At the start, we left the lads alone [doing their own fitness routines] because we were quite relaxed about it and could probably sense that it could be a good few weeks or months," he added.

"We were conscious of not being too intense with them at the start and then gradually increased it as we go along.

"As of this week, they're now on compulsory sessions. It's good and we're just desperate to come back. They're looking forward to getting back to what they know best. We're just staying in touch and seeing what's next, like everyone else."

Prevention and psychology

After two months away, Carrick admits there will be plenty of factors to consider when preparing the players for a return to action.

"It's such a difficult thing to call because it's unprecedented, this situation," he added. "We're using our experience and obviously, we're using the experts to judge it.

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Image: Carrick says injury prevention will be key when action resumes

"Even coming back for pre-season, some of the lads come back and they're flying, whereas some lads you don't see them until September; it can take five or six games to get started.

"Every club is going to be in that situation and it's a balance. It's the prevention of injuries as well. You can't expect them to be training on their own at home and then, in a short space of time, expect them to play in a Premier League game. That's the concern, probably not the fitness levels, it's the injury prevention.

"Primarily, we're talking about getting back to fitness and playing games, but also it's about if they're OK [psychologically].

"Like all of us, you want to make sure your friends and families are OK. The players are, obviously, part of our family and we want to make sure that, as humans, they're alright and then the sport and the lifestyle can come after that."

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