Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal confirmed that Michael Carrick did not pick up an injury in the victory against Club Brugge and was simply replaced by Bastian Schweinsteiger for tactical reasons.
Man United ran out 3-1 winners in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against the Belgian side and Carrick was taken off at half-time to be replaced by Schweinsteiger.
The Englishman conceded a slightly unfortunate own-goal early on to give Brugge the lead and put in an uncharacteristic performance as the game seemed to pass him by.
After the introduction of Schweinsteiger, United looked to have much better control of the game in the second half. The German dictated the tempo with ease, spraying passes both long and short to bring everyone around him into play.
Van Gaal confirms Carrick was not injured when he was replaced at HT: "It was tactical – I have to build up the games for Schweinsteiger."
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 18, 2015
With Van Gaal suggesting that Schweinsteiger is still lacking match fitness, it may seem it is just a matter of time before the World Cup winner takes Carrick’s place in the starting line up.
Having impressed in all three of his United performances so far, Schweinsteiger is beginning to look like exactly the midfielder United have been missing since Paul Scholes’ retirement.
In that time, however, Carrick has proven to be United’s midfield metronome. His performances over the past three years have made him one of the first names on the team sheet under the three managers the Reds have had in that time.
At 34, Carrick gave the sort of performance that made it seem like he was beginning to get on in age. A single disappointing game will never depict a player accurately and no United fans will be ruling the ex-Tottenham man out. Nevertheless it is obvious he has serious competition for his place in the form of Germany’s captain.