Ferguson says 'watch United,' praises Michael Carrick, David de Gea

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Michael Carrick as the "the best English player in the game" and poured praise on the progress made by Louis van Gaal's squad during his first few months in charge at Old Trafford.

Carrick has been a hugely influential figure for United since his return from injury, excelling in both a central-midfield role and in an emergency defensive position, with the coach who signed him from Tottenham in 2006 serving up platitudes in an interview with BT Sport.

While Carrick was afforded the most lavish of praise by Ferguson, Wayne Rooney also merited a positive mention and there were also words of encouragement for in-form keeper David De Gea.

"I think Michael Carrick is the best English centre-midfield player, the best English player in the game," said Ferguson. "Robin van Persie -- the World Cup maybe [took] a little bit out of him but you watch him in the second half [of the season] -- he'll be fine. Rooney's back flying, and Rooney will always get you a goal.

"And the one that's most pleasing to me of the present lot is David De Gea. When we bought him he was a kid, but he's got special talent and I'm really pleased for that kid I really am."

United head into Christmas sitting third in the Premier League, with the club's iconic manager convinced the veteran tactician sitting in the managerial hot-seat he held for 26 years will bring success back to the club.

"I don't know how he can expect to be getting the best results with the injuries he's had [in his squad]," said Ferguson of Van Gaal. "When he gets the best players back you watch United. Because he's a great coach, he'll do well.

"I'm not interested what's happening with the players he's brought in because they'll need time. When I took Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in the January of the same year [2006] they were all over the place. It took five months to get used to playing for Manchester United, the culture, the history of the club, and these new players will be exactly the same."

Meanwhile, Ferguson suggested his success at United was spawned from the spirit credited by his first title winning side.

"Many people have different interpretations of what I've made Manchester United over the last 26 years, with great players, Rooney, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Eric] Cantona, [Roy] Keane, [Bryan] Robson, [Peter] Schmeichel, there's too many to talk about," he added.

"But honestly I think the spirit of Manchester United has come from the '92 team. I think that gave everyone at the club, not just the supporters, myself, my staff the directors, Bobby Charlton who was brought up in the Matt Busby era, it brought back the history of Manchester United, no question."