Rio Ferdinand believes England manager Gareth Southgate should seriously consider taking Michael Carrick to the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The 36-year-old has been painfully – yet somewhat predictably – overlooked by England managers favouring a perennially unsuccessful kick and rush style of football, with his last appearance coming in 2015.
He will retire at the end of the season following 12 campaigns at Old Trafford and will join Jose Mourinho‘s coaching staff in the summer.
But Ferdinand, speaking on BT Sport, believes Carrick could have an important role to play under Southgate.
“He got disgruntled with the English managers who haven’t given him any respect over the years,” he said.
“He was when we were asking for the players who could pass the ball through midfield quickly through to the attackers who would then be a danger who could do it quickly in not three or four touches, he could do it in one or two touches He was undervalued 100% he should have had more caps, he would have added balance to the team.
“Even now he would be the first one in the team now even given his age, if he was Italian he would still be playing now.
“They would still be saying he’s a leader hes experienced he can play the ball in the right way. Gareth Southgate would cry out for a player like Carrick.”
Put it this way: in the 2012 quarter-final of the European Championships against Italy, the most frequent pass combination between two players was goalkeeper Joe Hart and Andy Carroll. Scott Parker was in midfield. Carrick, on the other hand, was back at home.
For years, England’s style of play has been antithetical to what Carrick represents and, by extension, to sport in general.
But Southgate – dare I say it – is trying something different. He wants his team to build from the back; he wants them to keep the ball on the ground, to play through the lines; he wants players to back themselves rather than run around in a kind of neurotic frenzy, hoping that sheer gusto and elbow grease will be enough.
For the first time in years, this is a team that could embrace the metronomic influence of United’s captain, whose efficiency on the ball – even at the age of 36 – easily outstrips the likes of Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.