I am a big fan of Michael Carrick and struggle to contemplate how there are many United fans out there who have had outbursts of anger against Carrick, attacking his style of play at United. I wanted to write an article to show why Michael Carrick really is so important in the United line-up and just why he won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Have a read.
Manchester United have an unbelievable record since Michael Carrick joined from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006. When we lifted the trophy in the 2006/7 Premier League season, it marked the first time that United had lifted the trophy since the 2002/3 season after Arsenal and Chelsea (2) had taken it from them. It ended a baron streak and marked the beginnings of something special. In the 5 years since Michael Carrick joined United we have since won 4 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League (and lost 2 other finals) and 2 League Cups and enjoyed our most prolific period of domination since the fabled Fergie fledgelings had such great successes in the late 90’s and early 00’s.
Since SAF has given Carrick the holding midfielder position in the United line-up, Michael Carrick has excelled. He found his peak form in the 2008 Champions League winning season and sinced he reached the top, has suffered burn out and seen a slight decline in his performances but towards the latter part of the 2010/11 Premier League winning campaign, he began to remind fans of the sort of performances that won our hearts back in 2008. If there is any player who was a guaranteed starter for United in our thin midfield next season, it is Michael Carrick. He brings a calm to the midfield that allows United to retain possession and exert a dominance on the pitch that we would otherwise not be able to do. Anybody who complains about his lack of forward passes does not understand the game of football enough to realise that sometimes you have to go backwards in order to go forwards.
Undoubtedly the best part of Carrick’s game is his distribution. Adept at passing with either foot, Carrick is one of United’s best passers and now that Paul Scholes has hung up his boots, his importance next season will be paramount. Last season in the Premier League Carrick completed 1231 out of 1434 passes at a success rate of 85.8%, calculating out to an average of 51.2 passes per game. Statistics such as these highlight just how central Carrick is to the movement of United’s game. The ethic of United see’s as a calm retaining of possession through the back line of Ferdinand and Vidic (highlighted by the fact that they attempted over 2600 passes between them in the Premier League last season) and Carrick as the holding midfielder allows this possession to be transferred further up the field. I’ll be the first to admit that the creative side of his game has dwindled in the past 2 seasons but at the same time, his performances as the holding midfielder have drastically improved. People have to remember that creating goalscoring opportunities is not Michael Carrick‘s job any more but as mentioned previously, the retirement of Paul Scholes will force Carrick into adapting his game once more as United look to fill the void.
Consistency is one of the hardest things to have in football these days with the amount of injuries that force a lot of players to spend time on the sidelines. Since joining United in 2006, Michael Carrick has knocked up 231 appearances which works out to an average of 46 appearances per season. In comparison Darren Fletcher has an average of 36, Steven Gerrard has 44 and Frank Lampard has 48. United have not had a stable midfield since the times of Keane/Giggs/Scholes/Beckham with SAF rotating the midfield in pretty much every game. The only player who has always been there is Michael Carrick as he has became a guaranteed starter for SAF, who trusts in his ability to break up the play of the opposition and stop them from getting a foothold in the game. All Michael needs is a midfielder alongside him who can take the ball further up the pitch and as we look to next season, the responsibility could fall to anyone between Fletcher, Anderson and Giggs to try and bridge that gap.
Hypothetically if SAF was to listen to the wailing United fans who called for Carrick’s head on a plate last season and he removed him from the team, then who would replace him? Darren Fletcher, for all his dogged energy and relentless passion, cannot possibly bring to the team what Carrick does because they are completely different players. Anderson was an attacker when he came to United so he could not possibly be given the task of the holding midfielder position because he is always itching to run forward. Ryan Giggs is coming to the twilight of his career and was utilised as a central midfielder against Chelsea last season to great success but his strengths do not come in winning the ball and retaining possession. Carrick brings a calm that is contagious. He plays simple, unspectacular football for the team and his lack of an ego may well be the greatest asset to his game. It is obvious for all to see that Carrick does not need the limelight but it is exactly this reason why people struggle to see his importance in the team. Outcries for hollywood passes warrant no place in Carrick’s game, especially when the likes of Wayne Rooney will play just in front of him next season in the archetypal number 10 role that he excelled at so much after January last season. As I said earlier, all Michael Carrick needs is a midfield partner who has a creative spark and as soon as this happens, many people will forget they ever complained about Michael Carrick.