Michael Carrick treated Manchester United supporters to another dictatorial performance during their side’s first leg 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-final on Thursday night.
The 35-year-old, rested over the weekend in preparation for the clash in Belgium, calmly dictated proceedings at the base of midfield all evening.
He complimented his usual poise and balance in the centre with a number of wonderful passes forward, including a sublime ball over the top for Marcus Rashford that was well defended by Kara Mbodji.
The Englishman’s numbers from the game illustrate just how dominant he was from start to finish.
Carrick's game by numbers vs. Anderlecht:
100% tackles won
96% pass accuracy
Rolling back the years. pic.twitter.com/mJyxQXdGcu
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 13, 2017
We should admire Carrick while we still can. Not just because he is a blessing to Jose Mourinho‘s side (Man United have only lost one of the 28 games in which he has started this season), but also for the fact that he is a blessing to the beautiful game in general.
The modern midfielder has undergone a rapid evolution over the last decade. Is no longer sufficient to be good on the ball at this level; technical prowess has to be complimented with immense running power and muscle – unless, of course, you’re Carrick. He has managed to thrive at this level with a seemingly outdated purist approach, with everything revolving around creating space through clever positioning and carefully threading the ball across the pitch.
He is, in many ways, a footballing relic, and one Mourinho will hope to keep fresh until the end of the season.