The Rebirth Of Michael Carrick?

7 04 2011

Every club needs a scapegoat. For years homegrown Scotsman Darren Fletcher bore the brunt of the anger of the Manchester United fans and questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence on playing someone who they felt was not up to the requirements of the club. Gael Clichy and Jose Bosingwa receive the same treatment from their respected clubs, but there is one midfielder at Old Trafford who splits opinion more than anyone; Michael Carrick.

When he signed in 2006 from Tottenham Hotspur for a potential £18.6m, many fans were apprehensive with the price tag for a consistent, yet unspectacular player. However Carrick was the man who helped inspire United to three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008. Playing as a deep-lying playmaker, Carrick was key in sitting deep and intercepting play in a way which Sergio Busquets does for Barcelona, yet his passing meant he was a perfect deputy with Paul Scholes’ injury problems around that time. His form was so good that people were surprised he was not a regular in the England set-up.

Carrick's form has dropped since the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona

Yet since the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome 2009, his confidence has gone. Both him and Anderson were made to look like fools against Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and after receiving a lot of blame for the defeat, Carrick has not been the same consistent figure since. His passing has become wayward and seems more content on passing backwards or sidewards than forward. He seems inferior when alongside Scholes, and is happy to pass on the attacking duties. Even Ferguson, despite continual vocal support, has been slightly cautious with overplaying the midfielder, and it looked as if he was going to be sold in the summer; with Sunderland keen.

But a commanding performance against Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter Final first leg showed the Red Devil fans the old Carrick. His pinpoint diagonal ball to Ryan Giggs for Wayne Rooney’s goal was trademark Carrick. He has the ability to pull the strings in the centre of the pitch, but that player of two years ago is rarely seen nowadays. Defensively he was in the right areas all game and the likes of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien did not have as much impact as the Stamford Bridge faithful would have liked.

The West Ham graduate has a big list of admirers too, and these glowing comments from arguably the best central midfielder in the world Xavi reflect Carrick’s ability:

“Carrick gives United balance and can play defensively too. He passes well, has a good shot and is a complete player. United have a very good midfield at a high level and they’re strong physically and technically.”

Will Old Trafford Now See The Carrick Of Old?

Former captain fantastic Bryan Robson pinpoints his importance in a defensive capacity:

“He reads the game so intelligently and protects the back four with interceptions rather than crunching challenges. I think that goes unnoticed sometimes, but he brings a lovely sort of balance to more attacking players like Rooney, Scholes, Giggs and Nani. He allows them to go on and get on with attacking, while he takes care of everything else.”

With Fletcher’s illness and both Anderson and Scholes missing recently with niggling injuries, Carrick has had a chance to cement himself in the side for the end of season run-in, and if he can replicate the performance against Chelsea, Manchester United fans will think they have a new signing, because the old Michael Carrick is someone the team have been crying out for.

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3 responses

7 04 2011
Mani

His performance in the champions league final was very poor, but let’s not forget the likes of Ronaldo were nowhere to be seen. He felt the full force of criticism, despite being fantastic for 3 solid years, whereas the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo were just ignored.

Even when he’s been “poor”, he’s still been fantastic statistically. The defensive side of his game has stayed excellent. His reading of the game is marvellous, and is backed up by the stats (interceptions etc).

I really don’t blame him for regressing last season. The amount of criticism he recieves is ridiculous. Fair enough going forward he doesn’t always dictate the game the way that he should (although last night he showed how he can), but defensively he’s fantastic, so what’s with the “oh what does he do?” comments?

8 04 2011
Chad

I really like the partnership of Fletcher and Carrick in the center of midfield for the big games. Giggs was fantastic on Wednesday as well, he had a number of interceptions and tackles in the middle. I hope the Rooney ban won’t affect them on the weekend.
http://onascaleofonetosport.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/rooney-ban-upheld/#more-112

10 06 2011
Ogesa frm Tanzania

Carrick is awesome! He is the engine to United though very few see what I see in him! Tactically, at wembley with Chicharito doing nothin upfront and a 4-4-2 formation is nowhere to blame Carrick!
It should have Scholes-Carrick-Giggs and Rooney as a lone striker….there u should have seen the best frm Carrick! Old Ferguson didn’t see that and that was alrdy over even before the kick off, fortunately we got a life back when we equalised bt still Fergie was blind….

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