When the news came through last March that United had agreed a new deal with midfielder Michael Carrick, it was met with some scepticism, especially among United fans that I know. When Carrick signed from Spurs in 2006 he took the number 16 shirt worn by Roy Keane, but it was clear from day one he was not going to be the same time of player. Whilst Keane brought a “grab the game by the scruff of the neck” type of attitude to the game, Carrick would let his passing do the talking.
When the 2008/2009 season came around Carrick continued to play his unassuming game and helped take United to another title before a trip to Rome to face Barcelona. Carrick, without a suspended Fletcher by his side, was out played throughout by Xavi and Ineista and I’ve always felt that he hasn’t been the same player since.
Looking at the stats, this opinion is backed up to a point.
Whilst Carrick’s pass completion has gone up each season, his lack of confidence is clear in his minutes per chance created stat which have also risen. Whilst as I suspected he was most effective in 2008/2009, Carrick struggled to create a chance a game last season. Not great for a creative midfielder whose reputation is based on his ability to find a pass.
Another sign of returning confidence can be seen in Carrick’s attacking play.
Whilst he only has two goals all season, his chance conversion and shooting accuracy has increased massively on last season’s very poor effort, suggesting that some confidence is coming back into his game.
During the summer when Scott Parker’s name was constantly been linked with a move away from Upton Park for around £6m I hoped to see the former McDonald’s commercial star wearing United red. Eventually Parker made his way to the lane, where United head on Sunday in a huge top of the table clash.
I wanted to compare Carrick to Parker as well as City’s Gareth Barry to find out which holding/traditional centre midfielder has had the most effective season.
It’s surprising to see that Carrick has won a higher percentage of ground 50-50 challenges than Parker & Barry, whilst I was surprised to see Barry come out on top in terms of tackle success. Where Parker does show his strength is in interceptions where he comes out on top.
All three players are pr
etty much level when it comes to keeping the ball. Carrick has slightly better stats when it comes to average time it takes to create a chance, which considering how much deeper Parker plays shouldn’t be too surprising.
Going forward Carrick comes out on top here scoring more goals (okay two isn’t great) than his rivals here and but he is also averaging one shot in every two games which for a player who spends a lot of his time around 30 yards from the opposition’s goal with the ball at his feet is extremely frustrating.
Carrick has his confidence back, there is no doubt about that. If he continues playing the way he has, then United have a great chance of winning the title. I only ask one thing of you Michael… take more shots.
All of the stats from this game have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes a author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.