On-loan winger eager to impress following loan switch from Middlesbrough...
Mustapha Carayol insists he needed little persuasion to make the switch to United and says he is relishing the opportunity to work under his former Crawley Town boss Steve Evans again.
Carayol became United’s second signing of the January transfer window on Friday morning, joining on a season-long loan from Championship rivals Middlesbrough following a recent stint at Huddersfield Town.
The 27-year-old, who is eligible to feature in Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup Third Round tie with Rotherham United, previously played under Evans as a youngster while on loan from MK Dons during the 2007/08 season.
The winger says he has “matured a lot” since those days as a raw teenager at Crawley but clearly made a lasting impression on Evans, with the pair having remained in touch ever since.
“I know the gaffer well – I played for him when I was 18 years old and we’ve always kept in contact,” Carayol said.
“He fired me a text to see if I would fancy coming down. You just have to when Leeds United come calling – it’s probably the biggest club in the Championship. I’m here and I’m looking forward to it.
“There’s nothing better as a professional footballer to have a manager that understands you and actually knows your style of play.
“The manager knows how I play, so I’m just looking forward to playing in front of the fans and showing them what I can do.
“I’ve matured a lot from when I first played under him, though – I was just 18 at the time when I was on loan at Crawley.
“I’m now probably at a rebuilding stage in my career personally. It’s no secret that I had a bad injury and I was out for a long period of time.
“These have been the first six months where I’ve been fully fit and I’m feeling better and better by the day.
“I was on loan at Huddersfield and managed to get myself a few goals, so hopefully I’ll be able to chip in with a few more here and help the strikers get a few as well.
“I’m hoping to be a part of it. Whenever the manager needs me to play or whenever I’m selected, I’ll always give 100 per cent. Hopefully that will be pleasing for the fans.”
Carayol says he is well aware of the expectation levels surrounding his new club, but the Gambia international believes that those pressures match his mindset of only ever playing to win.
“I’ve come from Middlesbrough, where in every game you’re expected to win,” he said. “There’s not much difference in my mind frame coming here.
“I’m going to go out there and try to win every game.
“I’ve heard about the fans and how passionate they are about the club doing well. Hopefully I can be a part of something great for the rest of the season.
“It helps that I’ve lived in the city for the last five months, so it’s a good thing that I don’t have to move or anything like that.
“I’m enjoying living in the city, it’s one of the better places that I’ve lived throughout my career.”
Asked about his own style of play, Carayol added: “I like to get on the ball all of the time.
“I’m not really a winger that likes to stand out wide as you get labelled as someone who drifts in and out of games.
“I try and get on the ball as much as I can. I always look to try and take people on and be positive.
“My main job is to provide for the strikers, but I do like to chip in with a few goals. Hopefully I can do that between now and the end of the season.
“That’s the main reason why the manager has brought me here.
“We’ve got some good central midfielders that can pass the ball, so hopefully I make good angles and they can get me on the ball.
“I’m a player who likes to slip people in as much as getting a goal myself. Hopefully I can have a really good influence.”