A lot of Manchester United fans have been bashing Michael Carrick, demanding he dropped, sold or hung, drawn and quartered. When he signed a new three year contract last week you’d imagine countless United fans were throwing themselves off the Arndale Center in disgust given the chat that’s been going around.
All this because Carrick hasn’t been better than a cross between Lionel Messi and Jesus and won us the league single handedly already.
When we signed Owen Hargreaves the summer after we signed Carrick, the medium term plan appeared to be Carrick and Scholes in midfield pushing on with Hargreaves running around tackling people. Darren Fletcher had yet to become awesome, and with Rooney, Ronaldo and the Argie Troll running around up front everyone was shitting themselves.
Even when those lot didn’t play together, Carrick’s role was more advanced, much like the role he played at West Ham and Spurs. This was in tune with his natural game, which is as a passing playmaker. I’m thinking Andrea Pirlo as opposed to Gennaro Gattuso.
Given that Scholes has gone on longer than anyone could have dreamed of, we probably expected Carrick and Hargreaves to be our midfield two in the long term, with Carrick going forward balancing Hargreaves holding.
However, due to the injury nightmare that Hargreaves has endured, Darren Fletchers poor form and Scholes’ age, Carrick has often been the best choice to hold this midfield this season, playing further back where he is not as comfortable and can’t influence the game in the same way. Here is a comparison between Carrick’s role in the Liverpool game and a random victory plucked from the start of the 07/08 season.
The percentages show the location of Michael Carrick when he played a pass. The top example, against Liverpool, shows Carrick making 48% of his passes in his own half, and only 19% in the attacking third. Whilst he’s also making more passes, his completion isn’t great for a midfielder, with only 77% being successful against Liverpool.
The other example (A 2-0 win over Chelsea) three and a half years ago shows him making 62% of his passes in the opposition half, and a quarter of his total passes were in the attacking third. His pass completion was also better (83%) suggesting his preference for the more advanced midfield role.
Michael Carrick is doing his best for the team. As others have pointed out, he regularly makes the most interceptions of anyone IN THE LEAGUE, and consistently makes the most of anyone in the Manchester United midfield. He is being asked by Ferguson to play a role he is unfamiliar with, and is giving it a very good go.
He also doesn’t moan about anything. Remember, this is the same Carrick who got on with it when he was asked to play at center-back last season during the height of our injury crisis. As we have seen with some of our Premier League rivals this season, it’s fucking annoying and makes your team shit if you’ve got some idiot in your squad moaning all the time. No names.
So, having an experienced professional who has been part of title-winning and Champions-League-winning sides in our squad for the next three seasons, who is also capable of playing a variety of roles with some success, is supposed to be a bad thing?