He’s just one of those bloody players ain’t he?
In many ways Michael Carrick should have Marmite above his squad number on the back of his Red shirt rather than his own name. Many compare his popularity to the issues Dimitar Berbatov has had in his few years as a United player, but really the only thing that links them is that they have had the fanbases backs well and truly up…and that’s where the similarity ends.
When you sit and chat with fellow Reds the same thing is usually said: ‘Michael Carrick is an immensely talented footballer who can pass the ball beautifully. And for some reason he is now s%£t’
Lets not mince words here.
Alot of people questioned his signing back in the day, but I was not one of them. Carrick is a maestro of a midfielder. He has radar like vision. Can pull a pass off that others just don’t think of playing. His first three years at the club coincided with a glorious run of success, and he had a huge hand in it all…becoming United’s ‘Quarterback’ beside the Ginger Wizard Scholes…always available to Rio and Vida for the simple pass. Always playing the position with precision and class.
And then…………..Rome happened.
As we all know, the Champions League final changed alot of things for United. Not only did Ronnie and Tev Of The Dump skip away into the cash laden sunshine, but Man Utd’s midfielders obtained a sort of personality disorder. On that night Carrick and Anderson were barbecued into charred black bones by Iniesta and Xavi. And as a result those two players went into some sort of long term flux. Anderson had his injuries and his car crashes and his visits to KFC, but has showed this year that he is still on track to becoming a top player.
Carrick on the other hand??…….hmmmmm. Michael has never recaptured his pre-Rome form. Yes he’s had good games, but he has become the classic yo-yo personality in the middle of the pitch for us. Some days confident…other days just plain frightened…and on other days just pure tripe. He has gone from a viable player to break the axis of Gerrard and Lampard in the centre of England’s midfield, to falling behind Jack Wiltshire’s child like body, and even behind Gareth Barry who has lost it. It’s a fall from grace that is quite spectacular for a player who helped serve up three league title in a row and a glorious night in Moscow for us all. But why has this happened?
Carrick’s passing stats have always held firm. But his range of passing is the issue. It’s become malignant. Gone are the beautifully slid balls into the path of a winger or full back bombing forward. And this has been replaced with a ‘oh Scholesy can you do all the great passing for me’ type of passing! Which is fine when Scholes is playing..but not so great when he isn’t. It feels like he is wasting his talent, but there is a factor to be considered here that is out of his hands. And that is how Sir Alex is playing him.
Now we could all write a book on what is wrong with our midfield at the moment. The problem threatens our season..but also reflects badly on individuals. Fergie has chosen to play Carrick in a deeper lying role. The role initially reserved for Owen Hargreaves. If the manager wants to play that system then fair play..but the issue is Michael Carrick is not Owen Hargreaves..and it is as simple as that. He is no longer the quarterback. He is now the water carrier. All that creativity and class he used to ooze has been supressed. His job in many ways has been simplified. But this has just made him less effective. And every bad pass that he makes is blown up like an incendiary device by the fans….and rightfully so! Quality control is important to us.
Is that all a bit harsh on Carrick. Yes..a little. I really don’t like it when the fans ‘hate’ on a player. But for me, things changed the night we lost (but won) against Munich last year. Carrick’s performance that night was criminal. In what was the biggest game of the season….he utterly blew it. From that horrible night, I clearly remember having a conversation with my mate I sit next to at Old Trafford about how I thought Carrick would come good that day, after some terrible form….and oh how I had egg on my face! That night was the straw that broke many a United camels back for the Faithful. It was excruciating. Losing always produces a knee jerk, but this was coming from a distance. I didn’t like to admit it…until that night occured. Everyone can have a bad game…even a very bad game. But bad seasons are not acceptable. Even Juan Sebastian Veron got binned for less.
The problem with Michael Carrick now is one of evolution. Where exactly is United’s midfield going? Are we going to play this pragmatic style forever? Are we going to sit Carrick in front of the back four, to scare the life out of us every time he dawdles on the ball? Personally I don’t think Carrick is a bad player. Far from it. But as we slowly pass into the post Paul Scholes years (this summer, or next) are we truly prepared to carry on as the best team in England?
The answer is no….we are not. But do we have time? A little bit.
The next call is the Manager’s..and with this contract for Carrick, and today Darren Fletcher signing a long term deal, it appears his direction for the club is clear. A midfield is only judged to be great by the sum of it’s parts..and not it’s individuals. Do we expect them to play like Barcelona? Not really. But we do expect one thing: And that’s the ‘United Standard’ to be met. If Carrick can regain what he had before that fateful night in Rome, then he will be well and truly worth this new deal. If he continues to play the way he is…then he will remain the nuisance in the fold.
United fans do not trust Carrick anymore. It is up to him to regain that.
‘He can pass, tackle, head. Michael Carrick is a Red. Gerrard, Lampard, Fabregas..You’re not fit to wipe his @ss’….lets hope he have reason to sign this again soon.