Home » Juan Mata: Playing with Michael Carrick has been a blessing

Juan Mata: Playing with Michael Carrick has been a blessing

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has paid a moving tribute to Michael Carrick following the 36-year-old’s final appearance for Manchester United against Watford on Sunday.

The Englishman, reduced to just four starts this season due to health issues, will join Jose Mourinho‘s coaching staff in the summer.

He was deployed in the middle against Watford and treated supporters to a truly regal display, supplying Mata with a wonderful ball to set up Marcus Rashford‘s goal in the first half.

And the Spaniard, writing in his weekly blog, was quick to hail the pure class of Carrick as a player and person.

“Class,” he wrote. “On and off the pitch. That is, for sure, the best way to describe Michael in just one word. Class in every minute of his football, making things easy, understanding the game, making the right choices and always looking ahead.”

“Playing with Michael is a blessing because you know he’s going to find you. All you have to do is make a move to find a line of pass, and he will take care of the rest with his feet and his mind.

“He is, no doubt, one of the best midfielders of his generation, although in certain moments he has been underrated – never by his teammates nor by any other colleague in this sport, for if you like football you like Carrick. As a captain he has always led by example, with no need to raise his voice, using words that were full of common sense, passion and experience.”

Every Carrick pass, greeted with the quiet hum of appreciation from an Old Trafford crowd basking in the Manchester sun, was like a yank on the heartstrings – smooth, honey-like, languid strokes of purity and execution, now no longer found in a game largely played without old school holding midfielders.

To see this veteran, now 36, guide the ball all over the pitch, his legs the paintbrush and the pitch a beautiful canvass, in such mesmerising fashion was, put simply, a bit emotional.

Forget a replacement. You don’t replace the intuitive brilliance on the ball – that grace, that style, that precision, Carrick has honed over the years.

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