Michael Carrick produced an outstanding display for Manchester United in their 3-1 win over Northampton Town in the League Cup on Wednesday night.
Making his first start of the season, Carrick opened the scoring after 17 minutes with a powerful drive into the top corner, before going on to dictate proceedings as the visitors cruised to an ultimately comfortable victory.
A quick glance at his stats provide a powerful impression of how emphatic the 35-year-old was: 115 touches, 102 passes, 89% passing accuracy, 1 goal.
Following three galling defeats, the sight of Carrick calmly controlling proceedings – steering Man United to a much-needed win, like a kangaroo carrying its young – is wonderfully reassuring.
The Englishman, who hadn’t played since the 2-1 Community Shield win over Leicester City – brings more than just firmness and assurance to this side; there is also an element of purpose, a desire to move the ball forward and probe the opposition from deep. His presence at the base of United’s midfield radically emboldened the threat posed by Ander Herrera and – when he came on – Marouane Fellaini; the two had both the freedom to roam forward and an un-subsiding source of control with Carrick quietly marshalling the game from midfield.
Jamie Redknapp, earlier this week, encouraged Jose Mourinho to play Carrick alongside the hitherto ailing Paul Pogba, and tonight’s performance – composed and strong, invoking stability and eventual domination – provided reason for United fans to endorse, just this once, what the former Liverpool player suggested.