Michael Carrick is one of Manchester United’s most important yet underrated players, with the natural ability to control the midfield, defend and to push the team forward. He has been performing the above skills at a consistently high level for over 10 years with The Red Devil’s, and has been rewarded with a testimonial in June.
The chant ‘hard to believe he’s not Scholes, it’s Carrick’ regularly rings out around Old Trafford. Carrick in some ways is very similar to Scholes in his mannerism and play on the pitch, but he also brings his own style to the game making him, along with Scholes, a United favourite. Now at the age of 35, Carrick could possibly be nearing the end of his career, and as with Scholes, United will be losing an integral cog in their midfield when the number 16 does hang up his boots for good. However, he may be one of United’s senior footballers, but, 20 years on from signing his first professional contract, Michael Carrick is still going strong and has a significant part to play in the Manchester United team from now to the end of the season.
Professional, consistent, dependable are just a few words used to describe the man who has been a vital player in the middle of the park for Manchester United over the last 11 years. Breaking up play and winning the ball back from the opposition, are two of Carrick’s best attributes, and are similarities with Scholes, as well as looking forward and picking out a player in an attacking position. Some would argue his goal scoring and getting into the opposition penalty box is something he lacks in comparison to ‘Scholesy,’ and that maybe a fair point, however, his defensive abilities are more vital and superior to his former team mate, allowing others to attack and hit the back of the net rather than himself. In fact, some may say he is more of a Roy Keane type of player, but with less aggression, but ‘hard to believe he’s not Keane it’s Carrick’ hasn’t quite got the same ring…
Comparisons will always be made, and whoever he is likened to, there is no doubt Carrick has his own unique playing style and mannerism that has made him a United great and even at the age of 35, he still has a lot to offer the team in terms of a match contribution as well as using his experience to help and influence the young players at the club. A reliable, dynamic player who has great ability in his position as well as having years of experience in the game – you can’t beat it.
Some may have thought Carrick’s age and the competition for midfield places would have seen him sitting on the bench for most games this season. However, Jose Mourinho has seen him as the perfect player to play in a midfield three with Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba. The Manchester United manager has had nothing but praise for Carrick, he said of his player: ‘Michael is a phenomenal person and a true professional’ – quotes like these and keeping out former and current midfield internationals like Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin (who subsequently transferred to Everton due to lack of starts at United) is testament to the great player Michael Carrick is.
It would seem Jose Mourinho’s admiration for Carrick is a mutual feeling. The number 16 midfielder has said how much he is ‘enjoying’ playing under the Portuguese man and that The Old Trafford manager is a ‘winner’ who has ‘adapted to United’s traditions.’
So, it would appear life is still very good at Manchester United for Michael Carrick after over 300 appearances for the club. Playing a vital part in United’s first trophy win under Jose Mourinho and the season so far and judging by his performances, age is not a problem for Carrick and he still has a lot to offer the team. On all of this evidence, will it be enough to earn the midfielder a one-year extension to his contract, and will he want to carry on his prestigious career with The Red Devils? This remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, it really is ‘hard to believe he’s not Scholes,’ Keane, or any other Manchester United great when you consider how outstanding and magnificent this number 16 has been for the club. Whatever happens, Michael Carrick will go down as one of United’s most iconic players.