Michael Carrick has been excellent for Manchester United this term. United’s number sixteen, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2006, has been a pivotal part of the side to ensure a unprecedented 20th league was won with four games to spare. Carrick has played in 43 games for United this season, that is second to only Robin van Persie.
Earlier in the season, we described Carrick as United’s most important midfielder and after a number of dominant performances, you can’t argue otherwise. The cultured midfielder was speaking with the official Manchester United website and discussed Andrea Pirlo, Sergio Busquets and setting an example for the younger players.
Carrick’s performances were noted by his peers and he was nominated for the PFA footballer of the year award, which was subsequently won by Gareth Bale.
Ben Hibbs of ManUtd.com asked Carrick the questions and we’ve picked out some of his answers – but do check the website out for the full interview. When asked about needing experience to play in his position (like Andrea Pirlo), Carrick was full of praise for Sergio Busquets, the deep lying Barcelona midfielder:
That’s possible but it’s tough to say that for certain because there are other similar midfielders that are relatively young and doing well. Look at (Sergio) Busquets at Barcelona. He’s 24 and, although he’s playing with unbelievable players in that team, he’s done really well. Every player is different and some players can peak young and then they tail off, others become stronger later in their careers.
When asked about hitting his peak, Carrick was in agreement and discussed the need to constantly improve at United:
Yeah. I feel like I’ve improved all the time I’ve been at United. You’re always going to have better spells than others. That’s natural and you can’t be on an upward curve all the time or play at your best all the time. But as time has gone on I have improved as a player and I’m still looking to improve even now. You have to here.
He was also asked about how Barcelona’s controlled possession style has helped to highlighted the importance of a player of Carrick’s calibre – this was of course before the 3-0 humbling of the Catalan club by Bayern Munich!
That’s possible. The game evolves all the time and different trends and styles of play come to the fore or become more popular and are used by different teams. We’re perhaps in a time now where people appreciate that type of midfielder a lot more.
Lastly, Carrick was on good form when being asked about being one of the older statesmen at the club now (He was the oldest player on the pitch in the 1-0 win over Sunderland) and being an infuential figure like Giggsy or Scholes for younger players to look up to:
There is a responsibility to set an example here. I’m not one to dictate or shout and scream. It’s more about setting an example within the squad. At this club people like Giggsy and Scholesy don’t go around shouting, they lead by example – not just on the pitch but in everything they do. At Manchester United, especially, you carry an expectation to live the right way, to train well and look after yourself. As a package, there is no club like it in terms of responsibility for its players. It’s important the senior lads do the right things for the younger ones to follow.
Michael Carrick has been a revelation for Manchester United since he signed in 2006, despite what some Reds still think of his style and the unfair comparisons with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson. He may have only scored one goal this season, in the 2-0 victory over Stoke City, however his contributions have been far deeper than goal scoring stats from midfield.
Along with Robin van Persie, his movement and intelligence is top class and is often found in a abundance of space, which allow him to utilises his technique and switch play from deep. In a defensive role, his vision and reading of the play is exceptional and his experience allows him to recycle possession with ease. Time and time again he’ll step in and intercept the ball, breaking up play and starting a counter attack. Carrick will rarely jump into a thunderous tackle, because he never has to. Football has evolved and its key to have a player that can manipulate the space on a football pitch, rather than having to rely on recovery tackles.
Some say that Carrick was deepely impacted by the way Barcelona ran riot in the 2009 Champions League final. There are Reds that believe he never truly recovered from being found wanting against the likes of Xavi and Iniesta. However, Barcelona were at the start of a cycle that would see them dominate the European game and beat United twice in Champions League finals. Rome 2009 may have been a turning point in Carrick’s United career, but he has certainly this season showcased the sublime gifts he has in his locker and been a pivotal part of the United setup – as he will do next term.