He has still got it, Michael Carrick. Though not at the grandest of stages to announce a return to playing capacity – at Huish Park against Fourth Division side Yeovil Town, in front of a capacity crowd – Michael Carrick showed Jose Mourinho and the Manchester United fans, why he is still vital to the Red Devils who have now added another potent weapon to their arsenal in Alexis Sanchez.
It is a shame that he is 36 years old and retiring at the end of the season but United have a midfielder again in their ranks, not to mention one of the few league winners at the club, to ensure they do not lose any focus along the way, in the next two months where the club will be playing thrice a week almost every week, in multiple competitions, faced with a different set of objectives, in every single one of them.
As United recruit more attacking footballers in every window to bolster themselves from an attacking standpoint, the importance of holding midfielders in the side gets further off the radar, even though they remain key to any team, all the more so at a team – as top-heavy now as Manchester United to camp in the final third without the fear of getting caught out at the back.
This is why Michael Carrick, with his range of passing and the unique ability to anticipate patterns of play from the opposition, is crucial to Mourinho and Manchester United. Carrick, against Yeovil Town on Saturday, not only controlled the proceedings – in addition to allowing the more adventurous Herrera and McTominay with the former getting on the score-sheet only for the second time this campaign.
Among the players who played the whole 90 minutes at Huish Park, Carrick recorded the highest pass accuracy – 94% – completing 77 passes out of 82. It was almost like he never took a break from football – as the 36-year old not only ran the show in the middle of the park, he was also constantly on the lookout for forward runs from the new signing Alexis Sanchez, finding him often in dangerous positions on the inside left channel from where the Chilean can pick up the ball and push -forward.
Despite the fact that his game time between now and end of the season is expected to be fairly limited – given the competition of places at United, Carrick’s return should have the same impact on the side as a new signing would – with the added incentive of getting a leader back in the dressing room – to guide the actual new signing at the club.
Mourinho, as a manager who places a lot of emphasis on experience, can count on one of the great Premier League midfielders in the last ten years to step up and deliver with a steady consistency his side needs, in all competitions. It is officially the business end of the season and it is imperative that the Red Devils mean business in the next few weeks, for which the 36-year old veteran will be essential.
With the acquisition of Nemanja Matic, Jose Mourinho made his first step towards strengthening the rear guard at Manchester United in his second season – which has always been his style of laying the groundwork at a new club. But there is also a renewed sense of confidence in his much-improved demeanour since the turn of new year, more obvious by the week, following and probably even due to the return of midfielder Michael Carrick, in a bid to go full pelt in the last 14 games of the campaign – no holds barred.