Michael Carrick has insisted that Jose Mourinho has fundamentally changed the attitude at Manchester United since arriving last summer.
The Portuguese endured a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, managing just two Premier League wins from September to early December.
But Mourinho has mounted something of a resurgence since the turn of the year, claiming the League Cup, a 25 game unbeaten run and a driving seat in the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo.
And Carrick, speaking to UEFA.com, was quick to reflect on the change engendered by the 54-year-old this season.
“He’s a winner – he’s won everywhere he’s been, so that’s almost enough. He’s certainly got the respect of the players and everyone in football because he’s been so successful. However he’s done that, you’ve got to look and learn from it. He’s like us – we all want to win and we all want to lift trophies.
“He’s leading it, he’s the manager, he’s guiding us through and guiding the club through. There’ve been a lot of positive things to take from this season: the consistency of the team, the general performance. There’s real confidence approaching the end of the season and looking ahead to next season.”
The Special One will never be exempt from scrutiny from all corners of the football world; style, results and personnel are all things that have, at one point or another, come under question this season.
But those that experienced that last season under Louis van Gaal – and by experienced I don’t mean rival fans watching Match of the Day and taking to Twitter, but rather the agony, the sheer agony, of sitting through the same performance every week, a constant spiral of ennui – will tell you that the mood has fundamentally changed since Mourinho’s arrival.
There is, as you can tell from Carrick’s testimony, genuine team spirit at Carrington, but it will count for little this season if United don’t claim a Champions League spot ahead of a campaign where many – including United fans – will expect Mourinho’s men to easily breach the top four.