Date: 25th April 2011 at 8:11pm
Written by:

The man that makes United tick?

The key to football is having the ball. It may seem an obvious statement but one that is understated by many. Barcelona are the masters of it and success comes as a result.

If you keep the ball then you create chances, score goals and, most importantly, don’t concede. If you do this well then you win a football match.

To have a good football team, you need players who are capable of passing the ball to a player in the same colour. Whether it’s three-yards backwards or a 40-yard wonder ball, keeping the ball ultimately wins you matches.

It is a trait which Michael Carrick is very good at. The Englishmen has been a vital part of Manchester United’s trophy machine for the past five seasons, playing 143 times since his move from Tottenham in 2006.

There can be no doubt that he was one of many reasons why United won the league three times in a row between 2006 and 2009, his superb range of passing creating many goal scoring opportunities.

Since then, though, Carrick has played in a different role. It was a move forced upon Sir Alex by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world, and Carlos Tevez in the summer of 2009.

But what hasn’t changed is the quality he brings to the side, it may not be as obvious but just as important as before.

Carrick’s job now is to sit in front of the back four, break up moves and begin an attack for his own team. It’s something which he excels at but is yet criticised by many observers.

Perhaps the stats will explain why he is considered such a valuable member of the team. Not only does he boast the highest amount of interceptions a game at 4.38 but he also has the highest pass success ratio of any starting regular in the league having completed 780 out of 898 attempted passes, in other words 86.9%.

Now, they’re pretty impressive stats by anyones standards but it won’t satisfy some people. The main criticism of Carrick is that, although he passes well, he only passes it backwards or 3 yards.

Not only is this view reactionary but it also comes back to what I stated earlier. Football is all about keeping the ball, it is vital in the modern game. Passing the ball to defenders and fellow midfielders is what you do in order to start moves.

There’s no point of picking the ball up in your own half and then attempting a 40-yard pass which will more than likely fail. Why not keep your composure and simply slide it a few yards to your left or right and slowly create an attack.

Anyway, this view of Carrick is simply not true. Take a look at these graphics below from the Champions League match with Marseille. The chart on the left is particularly interesting as it shows that Carrick completed four out of seven ‘long’ passes and 30 ‘medium’ range passes.

You can also see that from the graphic on the right, Carrick is very willing to play the ball to the wide men, thus allowing for an attack to build.

Another criticism of Carrick is that he’s not very mobile and stays central. Well again this is simply not true. On Tuesday, he travelled the most distance than any other player on the pitch, 11.5k, emphasizing his superior fitness and desire to succeed.

Add to this that Carrick is very disciplined, having not picked up a single yellow card all season, and you have the complete defensive midfielder. Yes, he may not be as directly involved in goal scoring opportunities as he was in previous years but he is just as important, perhaps more, in his new role.

Maybe a fourth league title in five years since he joined United will convince fans that he is an integral part of the side and will be for years to come.


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24 responses to “The Taken-For-Granted Brilliance of Michael Carrick”

  1. James says:

    If Michael Carrick is brilliance then i don’t thihk you understand the meaning of words because it seems to me, clearly you think Messi/Ronaldo are so good a word hasn’t even been invented….

    He’s not brilliant, you want brilliant, you find that in Paul Scholes a man who’s 1,000,000 times the player of michael Carrick

  2. Jack says:

    i think most will agree that he passes the ball very well most of the time but rarely steps up.

    i would like to see how many assists he has or how many tackles plus his shooting.

    cos while in alot of teams carrick would be a good player at manu we need players who have a full skill set.

  3. Ezra says:

    Wow. Great analysis. I am one of the critics, but now I think I got soften my stand.
    However I would like to see Fletcher back to defensive and Carrick to attacking. His passes are needed in assists and Fletcher play spoiler we used to see will be Back.

  4. RedScot says:

    Good read and “facts” to support Micheal Carrick.
    The sad case when fans are slagging of players they dont quote facts and detail to back up their arguement.Things like he is F…ing S…e, sell him, etc, does not help, to understand why.
    I think Carrick has made a few high profile errors in his time at United,examples like being brushed of the ball, bye Olic to allow the Bayern Munich player to score at Old Trafford.Passing the ball too quickly, to keep the ball moving, inadvertantly to Ya Ya Toure, to allow him to sweep the ball past Edwin, who made the intial error with his “unusually” poor kick out.
    Its the nature, I think of fans to look for scapegoats in defeat out of hurt at the team being defeated.Micheal was superb in both Champions league Quarter final games against Chelsea and ran the show from deep.During the City game, or immediately after the dual error for their goal,Micheals confidence and demand to get on the ball, literally disappeared, up till that point in time he had been excellent, in my opinion.
    I was writing on here just recently regards Anderson and how I thought he was poor at United and lacked quality, and lo and behold, during the Everton game he was superb with bursting runs forward and commanding challenges.I think the word we are looking for in discussing both these players is consistency of play, and we will have ‘excellent’ United players.
    On Carrick and those that consider he should be shown the Old Trafford exit door, I would simply ask, if Fabio Cappelo, the England manager who took Carrick to South Africa, and Sir Alex Ferguson(cant recall who he is)decided to extend Micheal Carricks contract bye 3 years at United just recently, think he is good enough,why cant we.To replace a fully fledged International player of Micheal Carricks ability, I would suggest in the region of £20 Million, its not going to happen, we know we have a very loyal and professional player in Carrick.
    In the current situation and the buisness end of the season, I say shout on your players, it will pay dividends.
    Dammit, City have just scored.
    Cmon United.

  5. Jamie says:

    Finally… It’s about time something good is said about Carrick. He had quite a slow start to the season but recently he has been really good. I’ve noticed it more and more since Rio said that he is a great player to have in the team because he’s always an option for the back four. When he doesn’t play, we often kick the ball upfield but when he does play he’s always there and dispensing it to other players, like scholes or anderson, who are more direct and attempt the hollywood ball. Great article!

  6. seun olufoye says:

    you forgot to tell us the number of goals and assists that he has this season. I’ll tell everyone…carrick has no goal or assists this season. He did play quite well in d 2 chelsea games but apart from that, he’s been poor. When some1 can tell me we dont need a better player than carrick then i’ll believe he’s good. He cant even start 2 straigth games 4 england! U have got to be kidding me!!

    • RedScot says:

      How many assists has Michael Essien got at Chelsea, they are playing not dissimilair roles mate?Who would you suggest we buy?Inesta or Xavi or maybe someone else?
      I know he was not played in the World cup, if that is your point,but thats not Micheal Carricks fault, they may have had more success if they had played him, eh?

  7. He doesn’t have any assists or goals because that’s not his job. That’s left to the likes of Nani/Rooney and Hernandez. Carrick’s job is to provide the ball to these players who then go onto create goalscoring chances.

    • RedScot says:

      Sorry, I did not mean to but in there, its your article,I just used the reply button to the lads post.Sorry.
      Anyways this is where it starts getting confusing for me, if protocol is not used.
      It was a great shout on Carrick, mate.
      Of to do some Bitter baiting.Its much more

    • Ezra says:

      Well I think he doesn’t have any assists and goals cos he plays as a defensive mid, unlike when he used to play attacking.

  8. d says:

    I almost feel for any player that has to follow the likes of Scholes, Keane, Hargreaves etc. Are Gibson, Carrick, Flrtch and Ando as good as their predecessors? Probably not. But are they good enough to wear a United shirt, in my opinion yes.

  9. No worries. Thanks for the kind comments everyone 🙂

  10. ugo ikenna says:

    Well said mate! Carrick does his job well and makes it look simple. Carrick rocks!!! United is the best!!! Go get ’em devils!!!