Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has said he feels in great physical condition following the international break and is ready to help the team during an important run. The Red Devils have won all six games that Carrick has been involved in this season, which has led Jose Mourinho to say he wishes the long-serving midfielder was 10 years younger. Carrick told the official Manchester United website:
“Physically I feel fine, I feel really good in all honesty. You have to manage yourself a little bit more when you get older and international breaks allow me to stay fresh, but also as fit as possible for the games coming up.
“I haven’t played nowhere near as much as I have wanted to play, but I understand the situation. It’s about finishing the season strong and being successful as a squad. Whatever my contribution is, whether it’s big or it’s little, then I’m ready to make it.”
The 35-year-old’s approach to how he preserves his energy and maintains his fitness is reminiscent of how Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes carried themselves as they entered the final years of their career. Something that Carrick himself acknowledges;
“I’ve seen it so many times at this club, how players go about things when they get into their mid-thirties. You’ve just got to judge it as you go along. Physically how do I feel? Am I able to do it? More importantly, do the manager and the club feel I am still able to do it?
“So there are a lot of things to judge but there’s plenty of time for that [to discuss the future]. We’re not even at Christmas yet so we’ve got bags of time.”
There’s no doubt that Carrick brings a calmness to the team when he plays, and that’s something that United need. He also seems to get the best out of Paul Pogba, and allows the Frenchman to exert more freedom on the pitch. United have some big fixtures coming up thick-and-fast over the busy Christmas period, starting with Arsenal on Saturday, and also including a trip to Everton and a match at Old Trafford against Spurs.
Although it’s worrying for United to ‘rely’ on a 35-year-old, United play better with him in the side. Even with all of United’s marquee signings, I still think that Carrick is our best passer of the ball. He can sit back and dictate the tempo, and is always looking for that key pass to split the opposition defence. I think that in any big game, Carrick needs to start. He seems to be the only player capable of bringing an aura of calmness to the midfield. Otherwise it could end up like the Chelsea match, where United get overrun in midfield and ultimately pay the price.
The bottom line is United can’t afford any more slip-ups. To have any chance of a top 4 finish, they need pick up as many points as possible, as obvious as it sounds, but knowing United like we all do, they’ll make it difficult for themselves and us fans.