“Hard to believe it’s not Scholes”…
Michael Carrick. He’s not Paul Scholes. The song is fun, and most of us (United fans, myself included) love it. However, anyone dubbing Carrick “the new Paul Scholes” needs to take a step back. He’s not the new Scholesy. He’s the new Michael Carrick.
So what exactly resulted in Carrick making the step-up, and proving himself as one of the most influential players in the world, not just Manchester, in recent years? Back in 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson urged Carrick to be “pivotal” for United. This followed some impressive form in domestic and European games. Back then, he was the silent hero, United’s “Batman”, if you will. His imposing form continued. Unsurprisingly, Ferguson noticed. A year after telling Carrick to be pivotal, Sir Alex Ferguson said “Carrick is the key player”. He continues to be the key player, and many people would agree that he is a frontrunner for United player of the season.
Xabi Alonso recently said of Carrick: “In English football sometimes it seems hard for people to rate those who instead of shining themselves make the team work as a collective. For example Michael Carrick . . . who makes those around him play.”
With Xavi-like performances from the heart of United’s midfield, he is the rock, the pivot and the fulcrum of Ferguson’s device. He makes the defence play better and he feeds the attack. Michael Carrick is one of the world’s most consistent footballers – and consistency is the key to dominance, especially at the European level. Carrick has only missed one League game for Manchester United this season, which displays exactly how influential he is. Van Persie’s gifts and goals may have grabbed many of the plaudits for the Reds this term, but Carrick’s quiet and unassuming performances have been just as important to United’s overall team demeanour. His calm and assured distribution provides the base for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to grip games and the 31-year-old has demonstrated a variety to his passing which suggests he’s much more than a “short, back and sideways” man.
The stats don’t show much of an improvement for Carrick this season from previous seasons – his passing accuracy and total passes, as well as possession and successful tackles is nearly the same now as it has been previously – which shows that Carrick’s rise to prevalence as a United player comes with his humble style, his pride; his off-the-ball play. Carrick’s vision off the ball is second to none this season. Many players are gifted with excellent ability to pick a pass when they have the ball at their feet – the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta – but Carrick sees the game in a very different way. He oversees his team mates; their movement; where they’re running to; what they’re attempting to do. He most probably spends more time picking his pass before he gets the ball than he does with it – and the best part? The opposition can’t do anything, at all, to stop it. No tactical play of any kind could stop a player from seeing the game around him.
Michael Carrick, who, at the time of his signing, was United’s 5th most expensive signing ever, has proved his worth this season, following impressive form in the past few years. He is the new Michael Carrick. He has come into his own.
“Michael’s biggest quality is to move play from defence to attack and win the ball. Because of him, other players play better.” Former Spurs boss Martin Jol, February 2007.
By @JamesBrowning96 – Feedback is appreciated!