Manchester United has been in superb form in recent months, having not lost a match in all competitions since a 2-1 Europa League defeat to Fenerbahce on November 3. United have performed superbly during this winning run, with veteran midfielder Michael Carrick arguably being the most important player in the side this season.
Carrick has been a superb player for the club since being lured away from Tottenham in the summer of 2006 for around £18.6 million. In his time at the club, Carrick has collected five Premier League titles, six Community Shields, an FA Cup, two League Cups, a FIFA Club World Cup championship and a Champions League.
The English midfielder has had quite the career, but at the age of 35, many fans have started to question how many good seasons he has left in him. Regardless of when Carrick decides to hang up his boots, United will need to find a replacement at some point. Players like Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Monaco’s Tiemoué Bakayoko are potential signings that could fill Carrick’s void, but manager Jose Mourinho may not need to look that far to find an ideal replacement.
Young English midfielder Sean Goss has been in United’s academy since 2012 and is highly rated by many coaches at the club. Goss plays a very similar position to Michael Carrick for the U23 team, consistently showcasing a brilliant range of passing and football IQ.
Some fans may remember the 21-year-old when he made his first team debut against PSG in United’s 2015 pre-season tour under former manager Louis van Gaal. Ironically enough, Goss came on to replace Carrick in that match, a player that he has been heavily compared to since arriving at the club from Exeter City.
Goss is considered a similar player to Carrick because of his confidence in possession and ability to spray the ball across the park. He is the type of player that loves to be on the ball dictating play but is not the flashy type that will score you a lot of goals. The young German-born midfielder obviously has very similar characteristics to Carrick but lacks first team experience at any level.
One may question why Goss never got a chance under Louis van Gaal, who handed out 14 debuts to academy graduates in his two seasons at the club. Goss was named on the bench in November 2015 for a match against Watford but suffered a serious back injury a few months later that sidelined him for almost a year.
Goss’s injury would have certainly set him back, as playing matches and staying fit is crucial to any young player’s development. Former United reserves coach and current manager of Wigan Athletic Warren Joyce described Goss as being a vital part of his squad in his time at United. Joyce stated that the midfielders playing style was unique to his squad, even stating that his technical ability may already be good enough to help the first team.
Since successfully recovering from his back injury, Goss has been playing regularly for the reserve team. In a 3-1 defeat to the Manchester City reserves earlier this month, Goss was named the Man of the Match. The midfielder was asked to drop back early after Regan Poole was sent off, performing well before being moved further forward and scoring a goal.
A Man of the Match performance, especially in a loss, says a lot about Goss’s talent. Unfortunately, his lack of first-team experience at any level is something that is holding him back. There is no hiding that the Premier League 2 isn’t the best place to develop into a regular first team footballer, meaning Goss will more than likely be shipped out on loan before he gets a real chance at United.
That being said, Sean Goss has certainly impressed since joining the academy in 2012, causing many people to label him a potential replacement for Michael Carrick. While Goss certainly has a similar playing style and similar abilities to the veteran midfielder, it will be up to manager Jose Mourinho on whether or not he decides to ultimately look elsewhere to find a more proven and experienced replacement.
Replacing a player as important as Michael Carrick will not be an easy task. While there are many players around the world that could do a job in Carrick’s place, few come closer to a like-for-like replacement than Sean Goss. Manchester United has always prided itself on producing young talent, and Goss’s rise through the ranks may turn out to be no different.
Written by Jacob Turner