Thursday 7 May 2015

POTY: Why Michael Carrick gets my vote

United have had a wonderful season with Michael Carrick in the team but he's spent much of it sidelined with injury leaving fans with a sense of what might have been had he stayed fit.

"It is really that hard to believe you're not Scholes" came the question during a Manchester United Q&A session last season.
It was a reference to the song United fans sing about the midfielder, who replied modestly and with a smirk "No".

Scholes was a different type of midfielder but he rarely had as much influence on a season that Carrick has had on this one.
Of the 17 games Carrick has started, United have won 12, drawn four and lost one.
Without him, Louis van Gaal's side have played 24, won 12, drawn five and lost nine. 

United have scored an average of 1.8 goals per game with him in the team and 1.5 per game without him.
With him, we've conceded 0.6 goals per game, without him it's 1.3.
United have lost three successive games, all of them without Carrick in the team, and although his absence is not solely responsible for our dip in form, you'd be foolish to think the two aren't at least linked. 

Of course, it could all just be coincidence.
It could be that LVG's possession-dominated philosophy makes him indispensable.
It could just be that's he just having a good season where others are not.

But whatever it is, it should be enough to force Van Gaal to find a younger replacement in the summer. 

What United haven't struggled with in the last three games has been possession of the ball- rather it's what we have done with it that has been lacking.
There has been no penetration, one dimensional passing and a lack of intelligence on the ball- all areas where Carrick's influence is key.

In Carrick's absence, both Daley Blind and Ander Herrera have been played in the role in front of the back four but it is a position that suits neither.
Blind has looked better at left-back and Herrera has had his best games further forward.
Indeed, Carrick is now so important to this United side that there is no one else that can do the job he does, at least not to the same immaculate standard.

He's so smooth and slick in his quietly effective enforcer role that he could play in a dinner jacket. 

He may not be full of goals or a box of tricks, but with United's end of season awards almost upon us, Michael Carrick, you know, gets my vote. 

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