I have noticed recently that there seems to be a distinct difference of opinion, amongst both United fans and those of other teams, with regards to Michael Carrick’s attributes and contributions to Manchester United Football Club. I have had numerous “discussions” with both my mates and with acquaintances on Twitter regarding this subject. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on in reference to this subject I’m sure most Reds will have had the same discussions!
Now, this article is not intended as a way to make you all of a sudden change your opinion on him. I believe every fan is more than entitled to their opinions on anything football related. After all, the reason that we all love this game so much is because we are all so emotional and opinionated about it. If you have an opinion on a player/manager/team for valid reasons then that is good and to be applauded. However, what I don’t have too much time for is when somebody has an opinion purely because they are a “sheep following the flock”. They hear other people moaning and complaining about a player and they just go along with it. I can only put this down to one of two reasons. Firstly, they don’t particularly know much about football so they just assume these people are correct. Secondly, they disagree in principal but cannot really be bothered trying to explain their difference of opinion to anybody so they just “conform”.
SCAPEGOATS – I’m sure this happens at every club in the world of football, where a team’s supporters have one particular scapegoat who is all of a sudden the sole reason why that particular team is underperforming. Over the years United have had many scapegoats, to name a few I will mention Neil Webb, Brian McClair & Fabian Barthez who have all fallen into that category. There have been MANY MANY others. More recently Berbatov (to a lesser extent) and also Nani have come under the scapegoat heading.
Carrick however, seems to fall almost perfectly in the middle. Half the fans love him & half think he is useless. Now, let me try to explain where I sit on this subject. Up until about 2 seasons ago I didn’t particularly rate him. I don’t know why, so perhaps I was just following the flock at the time. However then I had a “lightbulb moment”. Why on earth was the greatest football manager that ever lived, SAF (of course in case you weren’t sure), continually playing this guy in our central midfield when he wasn’t up to it (in my eyes)? Had Fergie lost the plot, how was he not seeing that we needed a world class central midfielder to replace him? So, at this point my mind started ticking over. It was time to take a closer look at Carrick and his displays. What does he bring to our team that others don’t?
1, Is he a better passer than Scholesy? Absolutely not. But is there any shame in that? If you can find more than 5 players in world football in the last 10 years who are as good as, or better, passers than Scholes then you will be doing extremely well. Probably players like Zidane, Alonso, Iniesta.
2, Is he a better tackler and/or harder worker than Fletcher/Hargreaves etc? Probably not.
3, Is he better at running with the ball & taking players on than Anderson/Clevs etc? A more debatable question than the previous two points, but still the answer is probably not.
You might be wondering what my point here is, well I am getting there, just a bit more slowly than expected! So he isn’t as good at these things than the players above, but collectively he can do them ALL better than the rest of our central midfield contingent. He also brings other qualities to our team, he has a calming influence in the middle of the park, where it is most needed. He so rarely gives the ball away – I’m sure I saw a stat the other week where his percentage of passes completed away at Swansea was 96%. If this was to drop to maybe 80% then our defence would have been under a significantly higher amount of pressure and, considering our fragile defending this season, then we may well have gone on to lose that match. Furthermore, his discipline at being happy to play the deep sitting role certainly gives our other midfielders the freedom to go and express themselves in more advanced areas. Also, be under absolutely NO illusions that this lad can play a killer pass at any given time, there have been so many examples of that over the years that to name any of them would be pointless.
If you are yet to be convinced, just think about this….. Why does Fergie continue to play him in virtually every game? And ALWAYS in the big games? I think he’s started 41 out of the last 42 Premier League games (or some similar stat). He is, in essence, the first name on Fergie’s team sheet. So, if you still disagree with me then you also disagree with the greatest Football Manager of all time!! I have also seen/read many interviews with United players who rate Carrick very highly, mainly one with Rio saying that he couldn’t believe Carrick didn’t get taken to Euro 2012 as he is England’s version of Andrea Pirlo – High praise I’m sure you will agree.
Now, let me finish by saying this. If United had their choice of any players in world football to choose from then Michael Carrick would not make my first choice 11. Also, if I had to pick my all time best United team (from the 26 years I have had a season ticket) then Michael Carrick would not even make my squad. However, based on what we have available to us & his performances in the last 18 months to two years then he should continue to be the first name on our team sheet. Those who still disagree, please sit and watch him (properly) next time you find yourself at a United match and maybe, just maybe you will change your mind.