Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Michael Carrick - The Invisible Man

Two words United fans are most used to in the past few months: Transfer rumors. This time it is Everton’s teenager, Jack Rodwell, for £ 10 Million plus Michael Carrick. This story has three parts to it- Rodwell, £ 10 Million and Carrick. And the last part is ridiculous. The United community, at large, heaved a collective sigh of relief when his reported transfer to Tottenham failed. Here we are, hoping that we can secure the services of Rodwell, without letting Carrick go. That might be baffling. Why not let Carrick go? If Rodwell comes in and Hargreaves and Anderson are fit, isn’t the squad filled with mid-fielders? Read on.

While the United faithful have always respected and revered his contributions to the club, he is loathed by the average football fan that doesn’t see him play regularly or at least look closely at his performances. The only reason for this is because his style of play does not represent that of the typical midfield ‘enforcer’. You know, the Makelele-type ball winner, a player who dominates with destructive tackling, taking no prisoners. Carrick is not in the same mould, but that doesn’t mean he is not as good.

While he is not a bad tackler, he would rather win the ball back through the art of interception and the ability to press and hurry, forcing the opposition into less dangerous parts of the pitch and inevitably make mistakes. This part of his game often goes unnoticed – it does not excite like a crunching tackle that is spectacular. And that’s just about the defensive part. He is far more than that and his range of passing sets him above most holding midfielders. Be it short or long, he’s always likely to find a colleague in a red shirt. Along with precision, it is the speed at which he does this that is most impressive. If United is known for its counter attacks, it is this vision that helps United play with such a good rhythm and links the defence to attack. It is so important to United’s success since Carrick arrived in 2006, for £18 million. Three league titles, one Champions League trophy and two League Cups, along with other near misses, prove that the former Spurs player has had a great impact. Of course, he has wonderful players for teammates; some with the ability to turn a game on its head in an instant, but to win so many trophies a team must have an excellent midfield engine, and over the past three-and-a-half years Carrick has consistently been at the heart of it.

So much about his talent. Let’s see if we can make a case for him to be a candidate for a regular starter. Firstly for a mid-fielder at United, there is no such thing as a regular starter. We will consider the mid-fielders who will vie for that spot with Carrick. Scholes, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Anderson and may be Park. It’s easy to see why letting go Carrick will not be a good idea. Instead, we need to think about replacing Giggs and getting another holding mid-fielder who can be a hard core play maker. And we only have little time until Scholsey calls it quits.