Manchester United fans were absolutely delighted when news that Michael Carrick had signed a new one-year contract extension was released by the club.
Now 33, Carrick’s impact on United’s performances this season when he was returned from injury on two separate occasions has been transformational. With him in the side, United are undoubtedly a much better team.
Even England may come around to something they have inexplicably overlooked for the best part of a decade. As The Independent’s Glenn Moore points out, Carrick went to both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups but only played one game, and was completely overlooked in 2014 for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Yet, some of England’s problems have almost laughably been in areas where Carrick excels; ball retention, possession, composure and tempo building. If you need somebody to control a game, you give the ball to Carrick. Play to his strengths and he’s a wonderful player.
Right now, United have the ability to do just that. With Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini willing runners in midfield, it allows Carrick to sit deeper, protect the defence and use his vision to spark attacks with raking passes.
Having bodies in midfield also allows Carrick to add to the attack directly on occasion as he did last week against Tottenham Hotspur with a goal and an assist.
Man United fans love Carrick. Some took longer to come around to his importance but in a team almost devoid of experience, he has come to the fore when fit and is rightfully one of the first names on the team sheet.
Some may have felt at 33 that Carrick’s United career was closing its final chapter but what he has shown this year is that if he has the right team-mates, he’s still got so much more to give.