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Michael Carrick: Eternally Underrated

Imagine a central midfielder, English by birth, that has won every trophy imaginable. The Champions League once, the Premier League five times, the FA Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup and many others. Imagine this very same player not only won these trophies but also became a mainstay through manager changes and high-priced transfers looking to steal his spot on the team sheet. This midfielder is Michael Carrick.

Carrick has been the bedrock for Sir Alex Ferguson’s dominant teams of the mid to late 2000’s, the ultimate utility player for David Moyes and once again the constant and calm engine for Jose Mourinho’s newly formed Manchester United. Carrick rose to prominence as an equal partner to Paul Scholes during the 2008 treble run and hasn’t looked back. Winning the league and dishing out assists to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, and Javier Hernandez will surely gain one the recognition and label of “World Class”. Yet, Carrick is often the forgotten man in the eyes of spectators and critics. This is due to his “boring” label. Never one to hit a screamer, followed by an outlandish celebration, nor is he capable of being sent off for a vicious slide tackle. Carrick’s strongest attribute is his consistency and calmness.

For Sir Alex Ferguson, Carrick defined the central midfield role. He and Scholes worked tirelessly bustling forward, running give and goes or picking cross pitch passes. However, like Scholes, Carrick enjoys the ability to get back and chase defenders down. After Ferguson left and Moyes took the helm, Carrick was positioned more defensively. Sitting in front of a back four, Carrick was tasked with blanketing the defense and kicking the ball out to the attacking midfield or rushing full backs. However, with Mourinho, Carrick has enjoyed somewhat of a rejuvenation. In the middle of the campaign, with Paul Pogba struggling to partner with other midfielders, Mourinho thrust Carrick into a consistent role.

More complex than that of the previous managers, Mourinho was clear with what he wanted from Carrick. He tasked him with shoring up the inconsistent passing that had plagued the team, along with clean tackling and overall intelligent play. This worked magnificently. With the ever-reliable Carrick in front of the back three, Manchester United soared up the table. Carrick is able to push attackers off the ball while offering heavy support in the air and compensating for his lack of speed by sending intelligent through balls to his peers.

For all of Carrick’s club success, he has failed to gain much traction in terms of a fan base, both domestically and internationally.  He has been called up to England’s senior squad, yet failed to really break through. While England has, as a whole, failed to reach much success in international tournaments, one would think that a midfielder who has been steady enough for Manchester United for over a decade would be able to break in and lift the side to new heights. However, this has never quite happened for Carrick. Outside of Manchester United supporters, it’s tough to find anyone whom would praise or even notice Carrick’s importance. Yet, without a shadow of a doubt, if one were to ask fellow players whom they’d like to go into battle with? Carrick would likely be at the top of the list.

Written by Jordan Bullock

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