Carrick’s renaissance

December 18, 2011 Tags: , Reads 39 comments

Michael Carrick’s goal against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday was 70 games coming; two long years since the Geordie midfielder had last struck for Manchester United in any competition. In that time, for all Carrick’s understated excellence, the midfielder has struggled both to maintain the form of pre-2008 and a place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. Indeed, such was the former Tottenham Hotspur man’s perceived slump that many United supporters had called time on the 30-year-old’s career. No longer, with Carrick demonstrating his renewed value to the cause over the past two months.

Excellent once again in United’s 2-0 win at Loftus Road, Carrick not only scored United’s vital second, but demonstrated the kind of dynamic drive that many believed he had lost. The goal may have been rare, but the performance wasn’t a one-off either – Carrick excelled against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Ditto in the Reds’ win at Aston Villa, and in many of United’s matches post defeat to Manchester City in October.

Indeed, in the absence of so many central midfielders – Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, even Darron Gibson – Carrick’s reassuring presence has been vital to the club’s resurgence, domestically at least, over the past two months. But few supporters, even the most ardent Carrick supporters, would have predicted the midfielder’s mazy run and calm finish in west London on Sunday.

“The last time I scored a goal from inside my own half was probably when I was playing under-12s!” said Carrick.

“It just seemed to open up for me and I kept on going and going and thought: ‘Why not?’. It was great to see it go in. We had so many chances in the game, so many opportunities to get a shot on target… I was starting to wonder if it was going to be one of those days. So I was delighted to see it go in, though, even if the run seemed to take forever.

“We were definitely a bit disappointed [at half-time]. We created a lot of chances but the final ball just didn’t go our way. We were wary because we knew the game was still on a knife-edge. In those situations all it takes is one goal and the game changes. That’s why it was crucial to score a second goal. Even after that we had chances to score more. Hopefully we can add that to our game and score a few more in the future.”

Carrick has always excelled at rotating possession, easing United from defence into attack, and the player has offered far more protection to United’s back-four than he is given credit for. But the Geordie’s lack of dynamism, and his perceived passivity, has held the player back, both at United and for England. The player’s performance in two Champions League final defeats to Barcelona was so underwhelming that it genuinely shocked.

Moreover, it is a truism that Carrick has never completed a 30 game Premier League season, and only once started more than 40 games for the club in all competitions over a campaign. It is not enough for a player who is fit more often than not; a player whose talents have not always come to the fore.

The question now is not whether Carrick can become the player so many United fans miss in Roy Keane, but the performer the side has rarely seen for two years. After all, Carrick, now into his 30s, isn’t going to become the Irish midfielder overnight, and for that many fans will never come to lionise the £16 million player. But he could, if this form holds, once again form a central plank of United’s campaign for a 20th domestic title this season.

“When Michael Carrick scored that second goal I think that put it to bed,” said Ferguson of the midfielder’s run and shot against QPR. “He’s supposed to sit in the middle of the pitch. I’ll maybe have to fine him! But he’s right bang on form, Michael, he’s been terrific in the last few weeks and we’re pleased with that.”

Alongside Phil Jones in midfield, Carrick has been given additional freedom to break forward, using his attacking as well as those defensive skills. Meanwhile Jones, criticised by Keane for a lack of focus after United’s 2-1 loss to FC Basel in the Champions League a fortnight ago, has added energy to the centre of the park in Fletcher’s prolonged absence, even if the pairing is not nearly as creative as many supporters would like.

“Phil is only 19 years of age but he’s got tremendous potential and he has great energy,” added Ferguson of the £16 million capture from Blackburn Rovers.

“You saw today, he’s up and down the pitch making fantastic runs through the middle, he could have scored two or three today. He hit the post, the goalkeeper made a good save, his energy is really important to the team at the minute.”

Jones will eventually move back into defence this season, and the natural central defender’s occasional lack of positional sense in midfield will be more sorely tested than against Wolves and QPR. Each is genuinely in a relegation dog-fight. After all, Jones’ least impressive performance of the season came, arguably, in central midfield against Liverpool earlier this season.

In the meantime the Preston-born player is providing an excellent foil to Carrick, whose personal renaissance is well underway. The question is: will it last?


sidney - December 18, 2011 Reply

Been better than Phil Jones, but Jones still gets all the headlines and montages – that’s definitely a word

shane - December 18, 2011 Reply

renaisance a shit! For more than two years or even more only he has done is a superb pass with Chelsea and today with QPR. Come on, its QPR. renaisance with QPR???? And what about those balls without direction or to his back side when the attackers are open. If there is a pleyer ruining for more than two yrs the game of MUTD he is MICHAEL CARRICK

Pikey McScum - December 19, 2011 Reply

Hats off to the cunt for reminding us of how good he can be.

Can he perform as well against the bigger clubs though?

Geno - December 19, 2011 Reply

It’s a bit of a cliche but Carrick would have flourished in Spain or Italy where players have more time on the ball. His worst performances for United are in games where the opposing players constantly press as he has trouble holding onto the ball and he starts to rush his passes, such that his radar goes to shit.

Let’s hope that his purple patch goes on for a couple of months. He’ll still be nowhere near the England squad come the Euros.

Alfonso Bedoya - December 19, 2011 Reply

Carrick has been very good lately… but let’s been honest… todays goal???… he just ran down an empty pitch and had a shot, and the keeper should have saved it.

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

uncleknobheadforfucksake - December 19, 2011 Reply

i’ll say the same thing i said when andershite was flying in august

i’m not buying it

uncleknobheadforfucksake - December 19, 2011 Reply

now jones on the other hand

RobDiablo - December 19, 2011 Reply

sidney said:
Been better than Phil Jones, but Jones still gets all the headlines and montages – that’s definitely a word

I’d say Carrick just shaded Jones in the Wolves match, but was much better than Jones today. Against QPR, Jones had an up and down day – more bad than good I’d say; he was at his best going forward. I thought he looked lost while defending on several occasions, and I had to laugh two or three times as a ball recently nicked off a Ranger by a teammate would get passed to him, and he’d have this, “what’s this ball doing here?” look on his face; he seemed like someone just roused from a daydream. Don’t get me wrong; I love the kid and had hoped that he could blossom – reluctantly, perhaps – into our new Keane, but, although he learns quickly and has the physical attributes, I’m resigned to seeing him partner Smalling in what is sure to be the Premier League’s finest central defense duo. If, however, Jones’s runs were responsible for waking Carrick up to the possibilities, his time in midfield has paid off.

Jon0077 - December 19, 2011 Reply

What the fuck is this a joke? Carrick plays well against a couple of let’s be fucking honest shit teams and all of a sudden he’s iniesta!! Ferguson has the horn for this too cos let’s be honest this “renaissance” as you so hilariously put it will be used as an excuse as to why we need not buy. Oh by the way you fucking dope do not use Roy keane and carrick in the same sentence one was a warrior for the club while carrick will be remembered for watching two champions league finals with the best seat in the house…..out on the pitch.

Ed - December 19, 2011 Reply

Jon0077 (and others) – I’ll help you out here because you’re putting a lot of words and meanings in my mouth that I very specifically didn’t write. Let’s get to the core point because I sense you’re struggling with it. Renaissance: noun – a revival or rebirth. Carrick’s form has improved of late. I make no other claims than that. It is, given the player’s slump, very pointedly a revival. Whether it lasts is another question altogether. Whether it is good enough for United is another. I haven’t spent the last three years calling for some better quality in midfield virtually every week without reason.

As for the Keane part I specifically say he is not and is never going to be Roy Keane. Carrick has other qualities, which I do not attribute to being better or on par with Keane. Just different.

It really does help, if you’re going to throw out personal insults such as “you fucking dope” if your IQ is high enough to actually read the article and extract meaning. Or you can at least use a dictionary.

Thanks, and merry Christmas.

GeorgiaJon - December 24, 2011 Reply

Hear, bloody hear!

denton davey - December 19, 2011 Reply

Sometimes a player plays better with a partner – that seems to be the case with Carrick and Phil Jones (in contrast, Michael Carrick was often dismal when paired with the GingerNinja. Odd, eh ?) It also seems that TheWayneBoy is better integrated into the team-game when he plays with DannyTheLad – as opposed to either Chicharito or Dimmy – which is also odd since Welbeck is still a raw talent but it’s not his rawness but his skill-set that compliments Rooney’s. The same seems to go for the Anderson/Cleverley partnership.

If there is any value in this argument then it seems to me that the suggestion that Phil Jones would be better-off moving back to central defence is flawed. Sure, he might feel more comfortable playing center-back but his contribution to the team would be less. The kid is young enough to adjust – hell, he’s probably beside-himself to see his name on the team-sheet more often than anyone else !

What’s the downside to this ? SAF currently has three viable options at centre-back but no one with the strength, energy, determination and drive to play as the box-to-box partner for Michael Carrick. Surely, it’s easier to find a fourth central defender than someone to “replace” the great Keane-o ? That search has gone on for seven or eight years without success and now – unexpectedly – Phil Jones is “it”.

Damian Garside - December 19, 2011 Reply

I would agree: Jones andcarrick has the potential to be a great `marriage’. Carrick would seem to need a partner who is the complementary opposite of him: tough, strong, full of energy and able to take the load off him and give him time on teh ball and space to be creative and to use his passing ability to direct teh play.

Maybe in this he’s a bit like some of the posters here: they are successful because they owe so much to that big tough strong person who complements them — that 200lb hulk of sold muscle that goes by the name of `wife’.

kramer - December 19, 2011 Reply

i’m glad he’s playing well. he’s important to us even if he isn’t a match winner. of course he’s going to be better than jones – jones is 19 and a fucking centre back.

Gabagool - December 19, 2011 Reply

Great stuff the last few weeks, but I’ll need to see it against a “top four” club to be convinced.

brianofnazareth - December 19, 2011 Reply

uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
i’ll say the same thing i said when andershite was flying in august

i’m not buying it

Agree mate. He still needs to add balls to his game before I’ll rim him.

captainhormone - December 19, 2011 Reply

Commenter said:
renaisance a shit! For more than two years or even more only he has done is a superb pass with Chelsea and today with QPR. Come on, its QPR. renaisance with QPR???? And what about those balls without direction or to his back side when the attackers are open. If there is a pleyer ruining for more than two yrs the game of MUTD he is MICHAEL CARRICK

This is why people with DOWNS should never be let near a computer.

It’s a disgrace!!

Fred - December 19, 2011 Reply

Its effin Qpr and Wolves..

baggio365 - December 19, 2011 Reply

carrick has been solid recently, and is very useful in the centre of the park, but he’s not our future, and he doesnt perform in the biggest games

i’m personally more excited about jones. very raw talent, but i like what i see from him in the middle of the park. i think this position suits him a lot more than central defense, where his lack of composure will cost us.

Jon0077 - December 19, 2011 Reply

Ed: let’s clear something up here you said ” the question now is can carrick become the player so many united fans miss in Roy keane” I’ll answer that one for you… No. He’s had enough Chances by now dont you think? You also mention carricks SLUMP haha Rooney goes 9 games without a goal that’s a slump. Carricks form in last three seasons is a bit more than a fucking slump. If he were to be put up for sale tomorrow what teams would buy him? West ham? Bruce is gone from Sunderland so that fucks us when we need to get rid of the rubbish. Qpr? Ok I’m being harsh lets enjoy carrick bossing the midfield for us against shite teams we won’t be facing Barcelona any time soon thank fuck for that cos he seems to be finally getting over the mauling he got of them 3 year ago hurray for us. Merry Christmas to you too ed

Ed - December 19, 2011 Reply

Jon007 – it’s already been established that you don’t (or can’t??) read the article before posting a load of shit. So here’s what I actually said:

The question now is not whether Carrick can become the player so many United fans miss in Roy Keane, but the performer the side has rarely seen for two years.

See the”NOT” in there????

The point being. He isn’t ever going to become Roy Keane, but he could become a useful player this season if he finds the form of 2008/9 and continues his current renaissance (revival). And as I say at the end, its whether he can sustain this current period of good form that counts….

Clear enough for you now?

Damian Garside - December 19, 2011 Reply

Oh the joys of being an Editor. Maybe you should post two versions of the same article on Rant — one for people who can actually read, and the other for those somewhat verbally challenged. Having said that, Jim’s apology is very endearing.

Sounds like the solution to our midfield problem is CLONING. I bet FIFA have nothing in our rules to prevent us cloning Roy.

But after Keane’s most recent clash with Sir Ferf I don’t think the boss would countenance this as a possible solution (but he couldn’t use the the no-value argument in rejecting it).

Jim - December 19, 2011 Reply

Gotta admit, when I first read the article I read it also as “the question is whether Carrick can become the player….” and didn’t see the “not”. There’s a psychological theory or two about why we tend to read things the way we do, with our unconcious playing a role. We all have missed Keano and the majority feels that he hasn’t been effectively replaced, and I suppose that plays a role in how Jon007 read that snippet. Most people have the sense to check if they understood what they read before they pull the trigger though. Jon007 lacks sadly the necessary impulse control!

Damian Garside - December 19, 2011 Reply

The theory you are citing is called `projection’ Jim and it comes from Jung, not Freud.

The best account of projection by a United fan was someone who described how his view ofa certain Eric Cantona, changed from `sullen, arrogant garlic-eating Frenchie’ which he was until he signed for us, whereup he became, a `brooding, swarthily handsome, Romantic Heathcliffe type of French philosopher-footballer’. And then, of course, when we won the league with him for the first time in 26 years, he became a kind of beloved saint (Saint Eric of the Seagulls, the patron saint of kung fu).

Waxfoot - December 19, 2011 Reply

Anderson and Cleverley will take over when they’re back.
Carrick, despite one run through a yawning QPR backline, is not dynamic enough for bigger games. Jones should be used in defence instead of Evans.

Rob - December 19, 2011 Reply

Good article, I agree. – is there any chance you could mention where he was from a bit more though…?

denton davey - December 19, 2011 Reply

Baggio365 @ 11:59: “carrick has been solid recently, and is very useful in the centre of the park, but he’s not our future”

G’day mate. Of course Michael Carrick is “not our future” but he’s doing a damned-good job in the present alongside Phil Jones.

If we’re going to discuss the “future” midfield then it would seem to me that a pairing of Phil Jones and Paul Pogba would be “pretty, pretty, pretty good”, as Larry David likes to say. From what I’ve seen of him – and I admit it’s not much apart from some internet streams – Pogba seems like an identikit version of Michael Carrick – tall, composed on the ball, a good passer with a ferocious strike. But Paul Pogba is very much a work-in-progress and is probably some time away from challenging the present incumbent.

Whatever – right now, the pairing of Michael Carrick and Phil Jones seems to have a synergy that only the Anderson/Cleverley duo has matched. And those two guys are injured – again – so for the interim it’s a great thing that SAF discovered the current pairing.

sidney - December 19, 2011 Reply

Alfonso Bedoya said:
Carrick has been very good lately… but let’s been honest… todays goal???… he just ran down an empty pitch and had a shot, and the keeper should have saved it.

He attacked the space ala Jones. But there wouldn’t have been any space if he hadn’t have created some by losing the two players near him. The bit of skill he did on the halfway line created the space, which he attacked, and didn’t bottle it and lay it off, and he had a crack and booyah

danniitronix - December 19, 2011 Reply

He is playing better because mongotardstic anderson is not around to confuse everyone in midfield with his mindless ambling, general laziness and shit play. Good on carrick and jones.

sheesh - December 19, 2011 Reply

Carrick has surprised me with his performances. I never thought he had it in him. I was strongly against us signing him and I still think we could have done better with the money spent but his current run of form has helped us. I wouldn’t argue otherwise.

Kashere2011 - December 19, 2011 Reply

Is wonderfull to see Carrick in the form he was during 2007 – 2008 glorious campain,hope he can continue to demonstrate his quality up to the season ending.GGMU.

Pikey McScum - December 19, 2011 Reply

captainhormone said:
This is why people with DOWNS should never be let near a computer.

It’s a disgrace!!

Bet he can count cards better than Dustin Hoffman though…

Wil - December 20, 2011 Reply

Slightly off topic but seems like Valencia’s form is starting to pick up these past two games and it correlated to Rooney scoring again. During Rooney’s scoring slump, Valencia’s form was pretty awful. Hence, I’m hoping if Valencia’s form improve, this will mean more assists for Rooney!

But more surprisingly Nani’s form on the left isn’t bad either and he has improved again this year. Previous seasons, his form on the left was terrible but past few games he has been doing well (despite being Wolves & QPR only).

If Nani & Valencia continues to do well, this will ease the pressure off the middle a little more and hopefully helping Carrick and Jones. Would definitely love to see Pogba & Morrison been given a chance this Chirstmas period but was disappointed to see none of their names on the bench at QPR. C’mon Fergie! Don’t hype us up and then not giving them chances.

Last but not least, fingers crossed Utd. continues to find form during this period and if we do end up top of the league comes new year, this will give us a huge confidence going to FA Cup with City.

Calvino - December 20, 2011 Reply

I have always liked Carrick. He needs an energetic person around him. I hated him alongside Scholes as he used to just pass the ball sideways to him.

He and Jones with Rooney or Cleverly ahead of them a great combo. I also believe that we need Welbeck ahead of Rooney than Hernandez to play better.

Carrick will play well in ANY game as long as he has a good partner. His passing is fantastic.

chocolatteballs - December 20, 2011 Reply

Na. It’ll matter and maybe its relevent seeing were not in the CL anymore and we need everyone play at their best level to finish top 2 or 3 but he’s not good enough .
We can’t progress as a club with this guy in midfield , he’s been horribly exposed against decent teams and woefully exposed in European games since he signed .
As a midfielder he can’t handle anyone pressurising him on the ball ,he too slow , is he attacking is he defensive? the answer is he’s niether and he dosn’t make himself available for the pass instead preferring others to take that responsibility for him.
I personally don’t care what he does against Norwich or QPR or Swansea , As a club and years of putting stop gaps in midfield we finally need a world class player in that position .
In 3 or four matches time this thread will look like the overly optimistic threads we had at start of the season. Its a nice article and I know its not ment to persuade anyone but the answer, I think, is that, in the long run it dosn‘t matter much what he does and especially at the age he’s at now he cant and hasn’t offered us what we’ve been crying out for for years.

DeadRevel - December 24, 2011 Reply

He was excellent against Chelsea last year twice.

Just1n - December 24, 2011 Reply

Carricks alright. He just needs the right partner

Humanoid - December 27, 2011 Reply

“Agree mate. He still needs to add balls to his game before I’ll rim him.”

Carrick isn’t a Roy Keane type of player. He doesn’t need balls to his game. He’s a pin-point precision passer with a lot of creative ideas in his game.

sidney - December 27, 2011 Reply

But if we accepted that, we wouldn’t be able to moan about him

I never wanted him to runaboutalot – I just wanted him to look for the ball more, and make himself available by moving into space, and score belters

I’ve never doubted his defensive abilities

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