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Carrick: Pain fuelled title charge

Michael Carrick has revealed that Manchester United were fuelled by their disappointment at losing the league on the final day of last season when they regained the title this season and believes they showed "incredible character" to respond in such an emphatic manner.

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The midfielder said that United immediately started planning and preparing to become champions for a 20th time when they finished second to Manchester City 11 months ago.

United made mathematically certain of winning the league with four games to go by beating Aston Villa 3-0 on Monday and it was a far cry from May 2013, when they were set to be crowned champions after their last game only for City to score an injury-time decider against QPR.

But Carrick soon realised United would fight back. "Pretty much straightaway," he said. "It hurt and it wasn't pleasant but pretty much we started thinking about next year straightaway. It was said in the dressing room 'remember this feeling'.

"There are not many teams who could have come back from that. It was devastating. But we came back for the start of the season, got out on the pitch, started playing well and getting points. I am proud of being part of that. The character of the lads is incredible. Not many teams could have done that."

The England international said it was all the tougher that City took the title from United's grasp last year.

"It was the fact we lost it in those circumstances," he added. "Being your local rivals, and big rivals now, does make it a bit harder. But if anything, it just makes you more determined to get back on top."

United lost an eight-point lead in the final six games of last season and Carrick said that provided a warning to them, even when they had a huge advantage at the Premier League summit this season.

He explained: "I don't think you can ever feel in control. So many things can happen. Even with a 15-point gap it could peter away quite quickly."

Carrick has won his fifth title since joining United from Tottenham in 2006 and believes they are not given the credit they deserve for their success.

He said: "I have been here seven years, twice we have lost it, we have been written off massively, but we have come back and won it again. [It seems] we are never quite good enough. You can never please everyone. To do that would need a clean sweep of trophies, which is highly unlikely."

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