Michael Carrick put on a sensational midfield display during Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The 35-year-old, making just his second appearance of the season, treated Man United fans to a wonderfully composed performance from defensive midfield, acting as an ideal compliment to the effervescent Paul Pogba.
A quick glance at his stats sheds light on what was an emphatic display in the middle of the park.
Carrick's game by numbers vs Fenerbahce:
96% pass accuracy
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 20, 2016
There will always be something comforting about Carrick’s presence on a football pitch. Everything that goes through him does so in a controlled, attractive way, as if being cradled and taken to a better place. He seems like the sort of guy that would save you from a burning building whilst carrying his shopping.
His partnership with Pogba, a long awaited – and often demanded – fusion of styles, worked perfectly against the Turkish side. The Englishman controlled proceedings in an assured but unequivocally positive manner, always with the intention of playing forward – exemplified most potently by his sumptuous, seemingly laser-guided ball to Juan Mata in the first-half.
To me, however, Carrick – somewhat ironically – is at his best when nobody notices him. The 35-year-old calmly shifts the ball forward, recycling possession and maintaining order, whilst the rest of us eagerly scrutinise other members of Jose Mourinho‘s side. One must not forget the fundamental role Carrick plays in this squad, and United fans will hope to see the midfielder control games in similar fashion as the season wears on.