Michael Carrick made his first start in a Manchester United shirt since May and showed how much the side has missed his assurance in the midfield on an impressive return to the starting line-up.
Carrick was introduced by Louis van Gaal last week in defence after Chris Smalling‘s red card but Carrick started in a more familiar position and consistently looked to move the ball forward towards the more creative players.
The veteran midfielder was one of several who failed to replicate their top form under David Moyes but Carrick’s return gives yet another option to the boss.
His contribution was welcomed by United fans on social media:
Carrick with 107 passes and 117 touches of the ball today. Think Blind vs. QPR is the only other to manage over 100 in both this season.
— Chris Fleming (@Chris__Fleming) November 8, 2014
Carrick and Shaw easily our best players. McNair, Valencia and Fellaini decent and the rest was very bad.
— Marcel Siferlinger (@MaSi_Red) November 8, 2014
Great defensive job by Michael Carrick. Good to see.
— Renato (@UtdLover) November 8, 2014
Very big well done for Carrick
— Eli Tigre (@AliquaScripto) November 8, 2014
Reassuring to see Carrick in midfield. The man who was instrumental in winning 4 league titles
— The Guy Next Door (@guy_in_london) November 8, 2014
Squawka – Michael Carrick Stats : 3 tackles won 4 aerial duels won 1 interception 89% pass acc. 96 passes completed pic.twitter.com/92e90U0cz6
— MANCHESTER REDS (@ManchReds) November 8, 2014
Carrick’s return gives Louis van Gaal and Manchester United a rare midfield conundrum. In recent years fans have yearned for a consistent and talented midfield pairing and now the club have something different in the physicality of Fellaini, the craft and guile of Ander Herrera and the assurance brought in by Carrick and Blind.
The midfielder’s return to action may not guarantee him a starting spot as it did in recent years but it’s another string to United’s ever-improving midfield bow.