The Englishman, making his first Premier League start of the season, formed the axis of what was a powerful performance from the visiting side.
Sunday’s 3-1 win over Bob Bradley’s side extends Manchester United’s record with Carrick in the starting XI to six wins in six games.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho ensured that Carrick’s performance didn’t go unnoticed.
“I thought Michael [Carrick] was the stability, Marouane [Fellaini] was the balance, [Paul] Pogba was the freedom,” he said, “and all of them together meant the performance was very positive for us.”
What Man United fans wouldn’t give to have the Carrick of 2012 back, playing every week and dictating games as his side strolled to more silverware.
Unfortunately Mourinho, on more than one occasion, has made it clear that Carrick, now 35, simply cannot play every game this season. Now, normally I’d take this information at face value and go: “Yeah, you’re probably right, Jose – you’re the manager, after all.”
And yet, in this instance, I can’t help but wonder: “Why not?”
It has already been noted that Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who is also 35) has featured in 17 games out of 18 this season, with Carrick mustering just six. Now of course the Swede, in comparison to Carrick, boasts a more powerful figure, but the demands of his role (leading the line of a confidence-sapped attack) monumentally outweighs the task bestowed on the Englishman.
He may be at the core of proceeding but Carrick’s physical exertions are relatively limited. He hardly covers any ground, mainly because his superb footballing brain does most of the work for him.
With this in mind, United fans will be desperate to see the midfielder feature on a more regular basis after the international break.