Date: 12th April 2011 at 4:25pm
Written by:
Michael Carrick

Can United's number 16 banish the memory of last season?

The past 12 months couldn’t have been more of a rollercoaster for a certain Geordie midfielder who wears the famous Roy Keane number 16 shirt.

This time last year Michael Carrick earned the sort of vitriol from United fans usually reserved for a certain Argentinean gentleman who defected over to Eastlands.

Carrick was blamed pretty much universally by United fans for the clubs Champions League exit againt Bayern Munich. At Old Trafford, Carrick being outmuscled by Ivica Olic for the first Bayern goal then giving the ball away which led to the second was too much for some Reds to take and he quickly became a pariah.

The former Spurs man didn’t exactly do himself any favours by also giving the ball away in the home game against Liverpool which led to Fernando Torres opening the scoring.

It seemed Carrick was in self destruct mode, as Sir finally ran out of patience dropping him for the team and a player that should have been guaranteed a place in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up for the World Cup found himself an unused substitute throughout the tournament.

More than one person has suggested that Carrick never quite looked the same after that fateful night in Rome, when Xavi and his team-mates walked through the United midfield as though it was a training session involving traffic cones.

There’s also been suggestions that Carrick’s been moved too far deep and made to play a role which doesn’t get the out of him, or at the very least makes him less appreciated than some of his colleagues.

Whatever the reasons given for Carrick’s fall from grace, there’s no denying that by the end of last season he was pretty much public enemy number one for a lot of United fans.

Since the Summer Carrick’s slowly but surely won back both the confidence of his manager and to a lesser degree the respect of the fans.

Many Reds still criticise Carrick as being a passenger who does nothing but pass the ball backwards, although his supporters- of which there are more than just a few- claim that without him, United would struggle and he’s actually the unsung hero of the team.

One area all United fans agree on is Carrick’s performance at Stamford Bridge last week which was by all accounts, quite frankly superb.

Carrick seemed the player we bought from Spurs five years ago, winning the ball, picking out killer passes and taking the sting out of the game when needed. Some fans, myself included, labeled it his greatest game in a Red shirt since Roma 2007.

It’s almost one year to the day that Carrick suffered the worst 90 minutes of his United career, a game so bad many thought it may actually lead to him leaving Old Trafford.

Should United go through to the semi finals of the Champions League tonight and Carrick play his part, then finally he can put the spectre of the Bayern game behind him and prove all of his critics- including many of his own fans, wrong.

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