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Michael Carrick; A great serviceman

When Michael Carrick signed for Manchester United in 2006, few could predict what a stellar career he would have at Old Trafford. Given the number 16 shirt, which was made iconic by former club captain Roy Keane, who left United a year earlier, Carrick had big boots to fill.

In Carrick’s first season there was a bit of uncertainty at United, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea had picked up two Premier League titles in a row, looking very impressive in the process, and United had lost two big players, Roy Keane as before mentioned, and Ruud van Nistelrooy who departed for Real Madrid, both players didn’t exactly leave amicably either. United were in good hands though, Carrick was a reliable partner to Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were developing rapidly and really making the team their own. After three years without winning the Premier League United were crowned champions, Carrick playing a key role. United also had a good Champions League campaign, including the unforgettable 7-1 thrashing against Roma, where Carrick scored two brilliant goals. United were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual winners AC Milan, who beat Liverpool in the final.

Carrick was a key part of the squad of arguably our greatest ever team under Sir Alex Ferguson, in my opinion, it was, a real complete team. In the period of Carrick’s arrival and Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, United had won all three Premier League crowns and the UEFA Champions League in Moscow.

The post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, Carrick’s responsibility grew immensely, Scholes and Giggs were getting older and having to be managed in a particular way to keep getting the best out of them, Carrick was United’s key piece in the midfield. Darren Fletcher was breaking in the starting XI in the 09/10 season, and in Carrick and Scholes, he had the perfect model professionals to learn from. Ryan Giggs was also finding himself playing in the centre of midfield more and in the 2010/2011 season, he and Carrick were excellent in United’s Champions League campaign, both putting in phenomenal performances in the knockout stages against Chelsea, and then Schalke, resulting in United getting through both ties comfortably. United progressed to the final at Wembley against Barcelona. Carrick and Giggs both started in the loss to that fantastic Barcelona side again, an aging Giggs and Carrick, up against Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, with Messi dropping deep was too much to handle. However United had a great season, getting to the final and winning the Premier League that year for the 12th time, a record-setting 19th English League title.

Carrick’s best individual season for me was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last. Scholes came out of retirement and never missed a beat, he was still producing truly phenomenal displays. Carrick though was an established experienced figure at this point and was leading the United midfield. United won the Premier League again, ensuring a fitting and emotional send off for the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

The post-Sir Alex era, Carrick has remained ever-present, Jose Mourinho has said this season how he wished Carrick was 5-10 years younger and I have to agree. One thing I love about Carrick is how he transmits calm all around the pitch, particularly to the defence, he’s a real leader. We also seem to control the game much better, Carrick is such an intelligent player, snuffs out opposition attacks making crucial interceptions, always in the right positions to receive the pass, and his passing, of course, is fantastic. This year I’ve been a real fan of the Carrick, Herrera and Pogba trio in the midfield, Carrick holding midfield, Herrera being great in the six position, and Pogba having the freedom to flourish going forward.

Signing for a £14 million fee, rising to £18.6 million Michael Carrick has proven to be worth double that, one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best signings, without a doubt, giving United 11 great years and contributing hugely in arguably his best ever team. Replacing him is going to be really difficult, there’s not too many holding midfielders of his type, and that are realistically sign-able. He doesn’t only stop opposition’s attack but starts United’s, he’s a playmaker.

I’m very much looking forward to attending Michael Carrick’s testimonial, where all proceeds are going to the Michael Carrick foundation, a children’s charity, a real reflection of the man. It will be great to celebrate a great United player, a stellar 11 years at the club, and to see some familiar old faces.

Written by Anthony Bennett

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