It doesn’t take a connoisseur of the game to know that Manchester United had a stinker of a season. Nearly every player has come under criticism, some more than others – like Michael Carrick.
Carrick, 32, was an instrumental figure in the successes of the title-winning season of 2012/13. From a position where he had been silently delivering for years at the top-level came to global recognition, finally, where plying his trade in pinging passes about left more than a handful of fans and pundits in their numbers in awe each time he caressed the ball.
A total contrast to what was seen in the months that followed lifting the coveted prize of English football, where playing carried as a truck load of burden each time the shirt was torturously worn. More so as a central midfielder at Manchester United than any other position.
The same scenario would appear in the shoes of Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley. Especially the latter, who although was fairly poor over the course of the season, was bombarded with unnecessary abuse from his own fans which lead to him deleting his Twitter account and quietly protesting his innocence and hurt at the abuse. It, at times sadly came across as Cleverley being scared to touch the ball in fear of misplacing a pass to a chorus of jeers at Old Trafford.
One man being an oxymoron to the current quality of United’s midfield is Paul Scholes, who recently spoke about Carrick’s exclusion from the England World. Cup squad. “Not bringing Michael Carrick is a mistake,” says Scholes, as bluntly as it is.
It’s become common knowledge that Roy Hodgson has never come about as being an avid Carrick supporter, who was also excluded from the Euro 2012 squad even though the midfield options at the time weren’t as rich in vain as they happen to be this summer. Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Frank Lampard travel to Brazil whilst the hard decisions to leave both of Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick may come to rue Hodgson and his squad when progressing further than the group stages.
With progression will come better oppositions, and exposure within will be preyed upon like a piranha seeking for the minutest scars that lay behind it a weakness. Blood. Or defensive carelessness for England. “He’s been under-appreciated in an England shirt and never had the respect he deserves,” Rio Ferdinand adds, in an exclusive to the Daily Mail.
Once again, it is another that pays the price for England having to occupy both of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the squad. Being 2014, it should most definitely not be case. It should not have been the case when Scholes, the finest English product of this generation, was forced to the flanks then, and most certainly at the expense of the defensive shield of security that Gareth Barry, if not Michael Carrick offers to a team now over the Lampard who has not adapted his game well enough defensively that Gerrard has as he has aged. With that, his attacking abilities are what brings him to Brazil, when it is clear that Ross Barkley and perhaps Jordan Henderson are far more superior in that department anyway.
Perhaps it may have been a different story if Lampard had the fabulous season that Chelsea had (bar the last few months of April and May) but by not, this offers no excuse for Roy to seek refuge merely behind ‘club form’ since Carrick was dropped for that same reason.
One of the major factors in Carrick losing his touch for United was the loss of possession in play under David Moyes. For this same reason, Carrick amongst many others were forced to adapt to the brutality of Moyes’ regimes that not only had their efforts rubbed away through barrels of losses, but changed dramatically from the vibrant ways that Sir Alex went by for years, and knowing nothing but that way.
The other factor surrounding the ‘decline’ of Carrick can be partial to the quality that he has been playing besides for years now. With an aged Paul Scholes being the only world class talent he has played beside, the likes of Anderson, Cleverley and Fellaini have played no match in making those around them play better as world class central midfielders are renowned for doing.
With the appointment of Van Gaal and his love affair for the 4-3-3, Carrick can be assured to not bark in suffering for much longer in a midfield trio that has promised all sorts, ranging from Kevin Strootman to Toni Kroos. However unlikely some of the speculation may be, it can be certain that the midfield will be addressed as a priority and no matter what, will be an improvement from the years gone by.
That’s a promise made by Van Gaal, not through words that have been spoken by him, but rather his CV that speaks on his behalf.
By Abdullah Mamaniyat
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