Carrick’s return welcome but only if it lasts

November 4, 2010 Tags: Reads 35 comments

Let there be no doubt, Michael Carrick’s role in Manchester United’s recent success is central, despite the Geordie’s many critics. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder’s ability to quickly win and recycle possession helped United succeed as a dynamic counter-attacking side in the wake of Roy Keane’s departure.

Arguably United would – could – not have secured three Premier League trophies in a row from 2007 onwards and the Champions League title in 2008, without the laid back midfielder. Yet, for seemingly more than a year Carrick’s form has hit rock bottom.

Slower to the ball, more wasteful and lacking a certain, for want of a better word, oomph, Carrick found himself out of the United team and secretly hawked around for a summer transfer. Sunderland showed initial interest but a mooted £10 million transfer back to his native North East failed to materialise.

Indeed, the opening weeks of the season saw no improvement in the 29-year-old’s abysmal form and even those supporters cognisant of Carrick’s pivotal, if understated, role in recent successes grew weary. In palpably the weakest area of United’s squad, Carrick should be dominating central midfield. At close to £18 million Carrick was, after all, brought to the club at great cost.

Yet, there is seemingly, to use the old cliché, light at the end of the tunnel, with Carrick selected for the past six games in a row, including five wins on the bounce. In United’s recent victories over Bursaspor and Tottenham, Carrick, while not a stand out performer, certainly provided a reminder of his abilities.

The Geordie’s smart square pass for Darren Fletcher’s opening goal in Turkey on Tuesday night followed an encouraging performance against his former team in United’s victory over Spurs at the weekend.

It’s a return to form Carrick credits to recovery from injury, with the midfielder suffering from an achilies tendon problem in the opening weeks of the season.

“I should have got something done about my Achilles sooner because I was carrying it for a while,” said the midfielder, who will turn 30 next summer.

“It is easier to say that now I have got rid of it because I feel great.

“But it is probably only how I feel now that I realise how bad it was. I feel good now and am happy with my game.”

Two good performances do not necessarily mean that Carrick has clambered out of the worst – and longest – slump of his career of course. But there is at least hope that the last embers of the player’s United career may flicker once again.

With Paul Scholes majestic only in fleeting bursts, Fletcher out-of-sorts, Anderson unfit and Darron Gibson simply not good enough, United has struggled in central midfield this season. Indeed, draws with Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion saw supposedly inferior teams out-pass and out-muscle United in the centre of the park.

Carrick though is defiant, despite manager Sir Alex Ferguson being open to offers for the midfielder this summer.

“I didn’t think I had to answer any critics,” he said.

“The only opinions that count are those of the manager and the staff. You just have to brush aside the rest of it and believe in yourself.

“I know when I am not playing well. I wasn’t hitting my best form so I couldn’t argue about the teams the manager was picking.

“I am not big enough to be saying I should be playing every game, so it was up to me to play well again.”

The charge levelled at Carrick over his career is of a failure of character; that he should be more dominant, more like Roy Keane. At the height of Carrick’s powers it was a fallacious criticism, missing the point that few players were ever as dominant – on or off the pitch – as the Irishman.

Moreover, Carrick’s raison d’être lay not in his destructive side but the player’s ability to get United moving rapidly from back to front, which was perhaps even more important than the midfielder’s gifted range of passing.

But positive recent performances mean little unless Carrick can translate very recent form into performances at the highest level. Intuitively, United still looks well short of Europe’s finest in the midfield. After all, Carrick has rarely impressed since he was humiliated by Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final.

In that respect Carrick has a crucial role to play but only if he can sustain and build on the performances of the past week. For too long and far too often Fletcher has carried his erstwhile senior partner in midfield. It is now surely time for the Geordie to repay the faith – albeit backhanded – that Ferguson has now shown.

After all, with Ferguson apparently determined to rebuild United’s central midfield next summer Carrick may again find himself marginalised or sold on unless the player’s return to form is permanent.

Should the Scot be handed substantial transfer funds as Joel Glazer apparently promised in his now infamous phone call to Wayne Rooney on 21st October, then Carrick’s role may once again be confined to the bench.

Should the Glazer family revert to type, Carrick may yet be used as the financial makeweight many expected of him last summer.

35 comments

herbie simms - November 4, 2010 Reply

Well, if this article is correct that SAF is open to offers for Carrick, he must be on his way out. He will be 30 years old next summer and I guess they would want to try and get back some of that 18 million.

mongoletsi - November 5, 2010 Reply

SAF is no longer trying to sell Carrick. Obviously.

Ted - November 4, 2010 Reply

I’m pretty sure Carricks detractors are hardly having second thoughts after a performance against a Spurs side who never even turned out for the second half and a woefully poor Bursaspour. He’s no Gerrard, or Essien and never will be. He’d cruise through a career at Birmingham or West Ham or Villa may be, but he’s never been a “United player”. Quite simply, he’s never shown the bollocks and guile you need to make yourself a first teamer. I’d sooner see him getting stuck in now and then, but all he seems to want to do is spray a few champagne passes around, and half the time they’re needless passes anyway. Decent honest professional, but there are thousands of them around.

herbie simms - November 4, 2010 Reply

But in spite of the poor performances being put in by some players and the quality of play coming from the midfielders, SAF is very pleased with the team and I think mainly because the youngsters are showing promise and the team is still undefeated in all competitions. If they maintain this and keep the pressure on Chelsea, should be very interesting.

redevil_83 - November 4, 2010 Reply

carrick has certainly played better in recent matches…and seems to be improving although he’s still short of his best. his creativity and passing if on game can definitely help united as the season carries on…we can’t rely on scholes and nani to be the only assist outlets in the team. after this season who knows…carrick might be on his way out. actually, he may be on his way out regardless – if he maintains good form or not. the only way he stays is if we get no funds to revamp center of mid fld next summer.

Bill - November 4, 2010 Reply

His form has definitely picked up. If he can share the creative duties with Scholes for the remainder of the season it will be a massive relief to all concerned.

Just have to find someone to split the load with Fletcher now!

ian - November 4, 2010 Reply

I’m afraid you have to pick up the crumbs with Carrick. He doesn’t moan but gets on with the job; when fit is always available & keeps the ball moving; gets up & down the field for 90 minutes; slots in with Scholes or Fletcher or who he has to play with; doesn’t hide & rarely gives the ball away; is a solid cog in the wheel. When you add all this together you get a good pro. It’s obvious what & who he’s not. All the best teams need a Steady Eddie & that’s what he is.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - November 4, 2010 Reply

him and fletcher were crap against spurs, that’s why spurs never looked out of the game until scholes came on, and why we needed scholes on in the first place

againt the turks it was scholes who played great, carrick was a pasenger as usual

he protects the defence well which fletcher doesn’t which is why he should play

other than that its all scholes

ian - November 4, 2010 Reply

Scholes was a great player -& when you’ve got it you never lose it- but nowadays he needs someone to do the running for him. No one pretends Carrick is a great player -& he never will be- but he will do the running for Scholes better than most.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - November 4, 2010 Reply

carrick strikes me as the sort of bloke who’ll go to the beach and be too embarrassed to take his top off

simitch - November 6, 2010 Reply

Anderson would be the bloke that takes his shirt off even when it’s cold and all his mates secretly think he’s a nobhead.

swapnil - November 4, 2010 Reply

wow i don’t really think he’s played that well since his return!!having said that nobody in our midfield seems to be playing very well.even fletcher has given some indifferent performances since he’s left to do too much by himself.its only thanks to nani,chicharito and a welcome return of rio-vida pairing that we’ve managed to win a few!!!even berbatov has gone back to being his old sulky self!!!

redevil_83 - November 4, 2010 Reply

‘sayyid’ incorrect – we would pummel them and give sh-tty a 5th loss on the trot. there poor form is of no concern to the way united goes into that match. we’re improving every week…hopefully we will have a full squad to choose from

if the dippers lose today that would make entertainment for today absolutely complete LMAO

redevil_83 - November 4, 2010 Reply

whoops, outta context – sorry

ichiro - November 4, 2010 Reply

he’s made that no.16 shirt his own

herbie simms - November 4, 2010 Reply

Any word on how Cleverley is doing at Wigan?

Bill - November 4, 2010 Reply

On the subject of someone to spell Fletcher – Park could be a good shout. Not ideal but ok. Not to be risked in the big games though together in a 4-4-2.

Can’t believe the FIFA goals panel is taking the Bebe goal off him – come on give him a break!

uncleknobheadforfucksake - November 4, 2010 Reply

gerrards fucking brilliant

RedScot - November 5, 2010 Reply

I suspect you are not taking this article seriously! lol Just looking through your comments, funny but not developing the discussion.
For me Carrick is injured to much its historical as we all know, not only at United at Wet Spam as well.
The article describes a square pass for Fletchers goal in Turkey.
Thats a slight bit of misinformation it was his second forward pass of the game up that point in time.
I believe Carricks confidence is shot, he passes backwards sideways anyway but find a telling forward pass.He relies on Paul way to much.
Nobody wants to shout down a player, do we?.I can take the sentiment on board there might be a chink of light.
Everybody but everybody agree’s the midfield needs stiffened up both in the attacking sense and the holding midfielder.
I just question why we did not sign Ozil, Van der Vart, or many other midfielders that have expressed their desire to join United in the press etc.
I can see him departing old Trafford in the summer in a player plus cash deal.
We should be carefull however not to rip up an asset.
You dont talk down your Car when trying to sell it do you. As a recent example Ben Foster, and how the boss described him as a “Great goalkeeper” then sold him to the Brummies.
For me he just does not score enough goals to be taken seriously as a Manchester United midfielder. One goal in average per ten games dont cut it.
As some lads say, Roy keane he aint.

mongoletsi - November 5, 2010 Reply

Ozil didn’t want to sign for us.

RedScot - November 5, 2010 Reply

As it turned out mate, yes you are correct.
Its just as you are aware every day during the the debacle in South Africa and to the end of the transfer window, everywhere we looked, he was linked with United.
All message boards were in meltdown over how good Ozil would be at United.
Aint he doing well at the Fascists though.lol

herbie simms - November 5, 2010 Reply

FIFA panel took the goal from Bebe but now have given the goal back to him.
Its good now how the newspapers are writing about Bebe as if he is already a big superstar. When he was first signed, they made so many nasty comments, now they even have a big picture of him, making him to be a real danger man. Its good for his confidence.

RedScot - November 5, 2010 Reply

Since when do you pay attention to the Daily snail.
Bebe is gonna be fine mate.
Its pure Abu’s and who reads that rubbish.
Jealousy in Uniteds scouting system, aka Javier Hernandez.

Bill - November 5, 2010 Reply

Yep the press were really out of order – Viva Bebe!

herbie simms - November 5, 2010 Reply

I did not worry about the press, I knew Bebe would come good once he got a chance to play. With these injuries that United have gives these youngsters more playing time and I really feel they are going to get the job down. They seem so eager to prove a point which is good for the future. Obertan is already saying that he hopes to play against Wolves. He’s scored his first goal and he’s anxious to get another one or two. West Brom should do a number on Man City, they have got big problems over there with Mancini.

Alfonso Bedoya - November 5, 2010 Reply

Carrick has been OK lately… but his position for a team like United requires a fuck of a lot more than just OK…

A club of the stature of United should have one of the best 4/5 players in the world playing there… like we have in the past.

herbie simms - November 5, 2010 Reply

Hey, I’m taking bets now.
Darren Ferguson will be the next manager of Man United and Alex Ferguson will be his assistant.
Whats the odds? Have a few beers over that one!

Ted - November 5, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Hey, I’m taking bets now.
Darren Ferguson will be the next manager of Man United and Alex Ferguson will be his assistant.
Whats the odds? Have a few beers over that one!

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I’d say Herbs you’ve had a few too many already.

mongoletsi - November 5, 2010 Reply

Is there any way to block Herbie Simms so I don’t have to read his latest braindumps?

gazno77 - November 5, 2010 Reply

Herbie, are you Darren Ferguson in disguise?

shadrack mclovin - November 5, 2010 Reply

I don’t think Carrick has played that well, a couple of times in turkey he gave the ball away with sloppy passes and as per Scholes ran the show. His form is no where near as good as a couple of seasons ago,especially the game against Roma for instance and i think SAF will replace him at the end of the season.

If only Alf could play for us in midfield…… imagine

(My Hero)

herbie simms - November 5, 2010 Reply

I was only kidding.

herbie simms - November 5, 2010 Reply

I see Rooney is going to spend a week in the USA at Nike Town in Oregon to get treatment on his ankle. How serious is the injury? They say he will be out for at least another three weeks!

Ted - November 5, 2010 Reply

shadrack mclovin said:
I don’t think Carrick has played that well, a couple of times in turkey he gave the ball away with sloppy passes and as per Scholes ran the show. His form is no where near as good as a couple of seasons ago,especially the game against Roma for instance and i think SAF will replace him at the end of the season.

If only Alf could play for us in midfield…… imagine

(My Hero)

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I can imagine the sweaty little fuckhead getting right in their faces. And we’d only have to pay him in badges, no cash, what a great idea.

“Fergie…………..Fergie sign him up!” He’s a sweaty twat!

shadrack mclovin - November 6, 2010 Reply

Ted said:
—————————————————————————————
I can imagine the sweaty little fuckhead getting right in their faces. And we’d only have to pay him in badges, no cash, what a great idea.

“Fergie…………..Fergie sign him up!” He’s a sweaty twat!

very true indeed, the only problem being he is gay, really gay

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