Too often is a player ignored when they are in their prime, and then the footballing world is left to mourn what they had, and did not appreciate, once the individual retires. It happened with Paul Scholes, one of the most criminally underrated footballers in history, and, until recently, it was going to happen to yet another English midfielder.
Modern football is such a place that, if you aren’t scoring or assisting goals regularly, you fall to the wayside and you are forgotten very quickly when the awards season comes around.
One man that knows this all too well is former Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman was vital in the Foxes’ title-winning season as he tackled, passed and ran his way to a Premier League triumph. However, when the awards for the player of the season came around, Kante was beaten to it by former teammate, Riyad Mahrez, unfairly, many people would say.
Of course, Mahrez was superb last year as he played above and beyond what was expected of him. However, Kante was the choice for so many as they deemed the underrated midfielder was the entire engine room in the Foxes’ title win. This season too, while with Chelsea, spectators have cited his influence as he has transformed the abject team of last year back into a title challenging (and seemingly winning) side.
At this point, with so many saying Kante is underrated, he is now in fact rated. This is sadly the case for Manchester United’s Michael Carrick. The central-midfielder has flitted between the treatment room, the bench and the first-team over the last few years, and many assumed that his penchant for injuries would see his career at Old Trafford brought to a close sooner rather than later.
However, the former Tottenham man has refound his form, and a youthful step, too. This has coincided with the deterioration in the form of club captain Wayne Rooney and, while we are not saying this is Carrick’s fault, we can’t rule out the fact he may be syphoning Rooney’s youth into his once ageing legs.
That aside, Carrick has become a lynchpin of Jose Mourinho’s midfield, something very few people saw coming. This prominence has seen his stock rise exponentially, with many calling him one of the most underrated players in the Premier League.
Twitter is usually ablaze with player bashing critics, but Carrick is a name that seems synonymous with ‘#underrated’:
If Carrick does decide to call it a day then I wish him all the best. Superb servant, yet hugely underrated by some.
— C.S.M. (@CSM0611) February 15, 2017
Carrick is so underrated #mufc
— Jamie (@J_Wright19) March 4, 2017
— Chris Latham (@chriscmlchris) March 2, 2017
Is Michael Carrick the most underrated English player ever? If not, who… pic.twitter.com/34HfcRy0D0
— BigSport (@BigSportGB) March 2, 2017
However, he seems to be going in the same direction as Kante, with the Englishman deemed underrated by so many people, that he is no longer underrated. In fact, all this hype is having an adverse effect on the player’s reputation.
Whereas Kante has taken all of the plaudits in his stride, going from strength to strength as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, Carrick has been unable to hit the same sort of heights. This season, Carrick has started just 11 Premier League games, picking up neither an assist nor a goal. In fact, he has scored just once this season in the EFL Cup.
Of course, it is not just about goals and assists, with Carrick adept at breaking up play and setting his team onto the front foot. However, the fact he has started just 11 games shows that his ability to regularly play is dwindling.
It seems then, that his tag of being underrated has had quite the opposite effect, making him more overrated. What’s next? Marouane Fellaini is the most underrated creative midfielder in the Premier League? Give me a break.
Does Michael Carrick make United legend Gary Neville’s current strongest Red Devils XI?