Michael Carrick is “desperate” to end the season – and perhaps his Manchester United career – with Europa League glory.
Last week’s 1-0 win in Spain puts Jose Mourinho’s men in the driving seat heading into the second leg of their semi-final against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford.
Carrick tasted continental triumph as part of United’s triumphant Champions League side in 2008 and now has the Europa League in his cross hairs.
“I’m personally desperate to get to the final and to try and win it,” said the 35-year-old, whose United contract expires this summer. “That’s the only thing that matters.
“Whatever competition you’re in, especially at this club, with the team we’ve got, we’re looking to win it. It’s a great opportunity.
“We’ll respect who is left in the competition – it’s not going to be easy and we’re not taking anything for granted at all – but that’s got to be the aim.
“There’s nothing else that matters.”
Carrick cannot wait to step out at Old Trafford – a stadium “made for big games” – on Thursday night.
The experienced midfielder fondly recalled home Champions League wins against Barcelona and Roma and clearly believes United will soon be back at European’s top table under Mourinho.
While United have struggled in the Premier League this term, the Portuguese could end his first season in the hotseat with a third trophy.
“He’s a winner,” Carrick told UEFA.com. “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.”
Put to the midfielder there is a sense of better things to come under Mourinho, the midfielder added: “Yes. 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.”
Carrick is expected to hang up his boots at the end of the season.
“No, I think that has passed now,” said Carrick in MOTD magazine when asked about the Newcastle rumours.
“When I was a kid I was supporting Newcastle, I dreamt one day I would do but I count myself very fortunate to have played for Manchester United for so long.
“It is just one of those things where you cannot have everything. If and when I finish at Manchester United, that will probably be it I think.”