Sunday, 21 January 2018

Last man standing Carrick an under-rated great of his generation

Michael Carrick is set to take up a coaching role in Jose's backroom staff after his retirement as a player at the end of the season - ending one of the most decorated English careers of all time. 
After Wayne Rooney left for Everton in the summer, Carrick was United's last man standing from the Double-winning team of 2008, and will bow out having won every available domestic and continental club honour during a wonderful trophy ladened 12 years at Old Trafford. There have certainly been more creative and skillful players than Carrick to pull on the red of United, but few have served the club with as much longevity and distinction than a player who will always forever be remembered as a key component of one of the best sides this club has ever seen. Carrick may not have the energy of Ander Herrera or the combination of pace and power that Paul Pogba possesses, but his intelligence, awareness, reading of the game, passing range and ability to dictate the tempo, along with his leadership qualities, marked him out as a massively important player in his prime. 

Much like Pogba now, he gave us balance, and in a similar way that the Frenchman does, his importance to the team was only further underlined when he was absent. The contrast is United's fortunes with and without Carrick in the team is stark. Perhaps due to his unassuming style, Carrick never got the recognition he deserved with England and accumulated a paltry 34 caps for the country - often being overlooked in favour of lesser lights such as Gareth Barry, Scott Parker, James Milner and Owen Hargreaves. Determined to shoehorn the incompatible pairing of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard into the middle, many an England manager made the wrong choice by overlooking him.

After his arrival in 2006, Carrick formed a briliantly effective grit-and-guile partnership with compatriot Paul Scholes in midfield. Carrick played in a holding role with Scholes pushing forward as a deep-lying playmaker. This pairing enabled a more European style of play which relied on possession and ball retention in contrast to the more traditional high energy, direct and all-action style favoured by many of our high profile Premier League rivals at the time.
Signed from Spurs for a mere £18m ahead of the 2006/07 season, Carrick was seen as a replacement for the departed Roy Keane and will go down as one of Sir Alex Ferguson's best ever buys.

Let's take a look at Carrick's remarkable United career: 460 appearances, 24 goals, five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, six Community Shields, that 2008 Champions League success and then the FIFA Club World Cup the following season. The second-tier Europa League was the only major trophy missing from Carrick (and United's) glittering haul of silver, but our never-to-be-forgotten victory over Ajax in last season's final completed the set and added the final tick to the only thing absent on the CV. 

Forever under appreciated and under-rated, 'Carras' will always be fondly remembered at Old Trafford as a player who was superb at what he did. There may not have been a 30-yard screamer, a sublime piece of skill or a breath-taking surge of pace, but he had the ugly side of the game down to a T. His subtle brilliance and under-stated influence made him so crucial as the heartbeat of Sir Alex Ferguson's third great team. Carrick brought a calm and composed head as the leader of a ship that threatened to veer wildly off course during the turbulent days of the post Sir-Alex era.

He's Carrick, you knowwwww, never believe he's not Scholes.


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