At the age of 33, Michael Carrick is nearing the end of his football playing career but he is still managing to pull the strings in the centre of the park. Carrick is one of the more experienced heads in the Manchester United dressing room now, hence why he was given the vice captaincy at the start of the season.
Michael Carrick joined United from Spurs for £18 million on the 31st of July 2006, 3 days after his 25th birthday, and made his debut against Charlton at the start of the 06/07 season. Carrick has now been at Old Trafford for 8 seasons making 372 appearances and scoring 22 goals. He has had a decorated career whilst at the Red Devils winning 5 Premier League trophies, 1 Champions League, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 League Cup and 5 Community Shields. In the 2012/13 season Carrick also earned a place in the PFA Team of the Season, as well as being voted Manchester United’s Player of the Season by his fellow teammates.
This season though, with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera joining Manchester United this summer, Darren Fletcher returning from illness and Wayne Rooney playing more as a central midfielder due to the signing of Radamel Falcao, it looked like the chance of seeing Michael Carrick as a regular first team starter would be few and far between, but this has been far from the case.
After missing the first 10 games of the season through injury Carrick came back into the side for a crucial must win clash against Crystal Palace after a poor start by Louis Van Gaal’s team. Manchester United came away with all 3 points after a 1 – 0 win, with Carrick making an astonishing 95 successful passes from 107 attempts. This result kick starting a run of 10 games unbeaten, (7 wins, 3 draws) since Carrick’s return, including a 6 game win streak and huge wins over Southampton, Arsenal and Liverpool, with Carrick’s passing ability, his overall pass success rate being at 89.6% so far this season, ball retention and general manner on the pitch being key to help United in the race for a Champions League spot, which is tighter than ever this year
Michael Carricks return was key for Manchester United as it looks like he has managed to solidify what looked a shaky defence at the beginning of the season. When compared to the central defensive midfielders of the Premier League’s top 2 clubs, Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Manchester City’s Fernandinho, Carrick looks out of his depth being behind in successful passes made, possession score, tackles won and interceptions made, but Carrick has played considerably less game time than both Matic and Fernandinho which asks the question that if Carrick had played the same amount of game time would his stats be as good as Nemanja Matic? Making him the best central defensive midfielder in the Premier League.
Even though he is no Nemanja Matic or Fernandinho, Michael Carrick is pivotal for Uniteds success this season as he seems to provide the only bit of stability to a side that just cannot seem to find their best eleven or free flowing rhythm that we have seen in previous seasons.