The 35-year-old, making his sixth Premier League appearance of the season, calmly dictated proceedings at the base of midfield all evening, acting as the binding force of what was a dominant display from Mourinho’s men.
A glance at Man United’s record this campaign with Carrick in the starting XI illustrates his importance to Mourinho’s system: 12 games, ten wins, no defeats.
Man Utd's form when Michael Carrick has played this season:
When he plays, everyone else plays better. pic.twitter.com/DeIGKfh2SI
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 14, 2016
Carrick’s style has become largely obsolete in English football. Premier League managers have brushed ball-playing, steady midfielders in recent years, ushering in a more modern breed of fast, no-nonsense midfielders with bottomless energy supplies.
Such a status quo, to me at least, only serves to magnify Carrick’s grandeur. The Englishman, even at the age of 35, continues to thrive in an environment that has almost completely rejected his kind.
His style resembles something of a throwback to the days of midfielders dictating games at their pace, as opposed to looking to distribute the ball as quickly as possible: calm, always in space, always finding teammates, acting as the medium between defence and attack. Almost like a real life metronome.
United fans (and indeed Mourinho himself), following another victory underpinned by Carrick’s quiet but invaluable influence, will be desperate to see him remain fit as the season progresses.