Sir Alex Ferguson reminisces over signing Michael Carrick prior to his testimonial

by Leo Nieboer

Sir Alex Ferguson has been reflecting on signing Michael Carrick from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006 prior to the 35-year-old’s testimonial match on Sunday afternoon.

Carrick was brought to the club back in 2006 as a replacement for Roy Keane and following 11 seasons with the club received his own testimonial match at Old Trafford, with the Champions League winning side of 2008 taking on a selected All Stars team.

The visitors went ahead twice through Gaizka Mendieta and Roy Keane, but Carrick, with just one goal this season, popped up with six minutes left to launch home an equaliser and provide the perfect ending to an entertaining afternoon.

And Ferguson, in the home dugout with Mike Phelan for the first time since 2013, noted that Carrick’s talent was noticeable from an early age.

“My first recollection of him was seeing him in the Youth Cup final for West Ham,” he said. “We were looking for that central midfielder who could control the game and, of course, Michael moved to Tottentham.”

Reflecting on the steep figure (£18.6m) he was forced to pay for Carrick, Ferguson noted: “I said ’18?! They must be off their head!’. But it’s one of those situations if you want the player then you have to pay.

“His vision of seeing a forward pass is his great quality. There’s quite a lot of midfield players that are A to B passers, but when you got one who can penetrate with his passes and have a balance in terms of receiving the ball in, they’re worth their weight in gold.”

£18.6m probably wouldn’t buy you a Curly Wurly in today’s footballing market (I may be exaggerating), but such a figure back in 2006 was astronomical and, for a player who had managed just two strong seasons at Spurs, seemingly exorbitant.

11 years later, however, and money somehow doesn’t even feel pertinent to the influence commanded by Carrick. His presence on the pitch, that unmistakeable poise flowing from every small action, almost transcends the idea of profit. The Englishman has given his best years to this club, quietly keeping the cogs turning while others have taken the credit. Seeing him finally hang up his boots will, no doubt, leave a huge void in this United side.

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