“He was like a Rolls Royce, just cruising around the football pitch”
One would immediately assume the subject of this quote to be the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Pavel Nedved, Zinedine Zidane or perhaps Francesco Totti. Poise and elegance come with connotations of a cultured European footballer; yet the topic in focus here is Englishman, Michael Carrick.
A selfless mind on the pitch, Carrick always displays exceptional self-awareness as a deep-lying midfielder. Players perform a specific role on the pitch, something Carrick understood. Never one to maraud forwards on the pitch and attempt to become the star of the show. Never one to attempt feats beyond his limitations.
“I don’t always want to score goals myself. I try to give it to other players to give them a chance as well.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) June 1, 2017
Carrick has quietly graced English football for nearly two decades. His formative years displayed great promise as winner of the FA Youth Cup with West Ham in the 1998/99 season. Following their relegation from the Premier League, Carrick would begin to fulfil his potential by earning a place in the Division One team of the season. This allowed Carrick to earn a move to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2004 for £3.5million.
“…as a young boy, 16 years of age, he left home to play for West Ham. That tells you that the boy had the confidence that he was going to make it.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
He became a vital piece in Sir Alex Ferguson’s puzzle in 2006 when signed from Spurs for £14million. Despite the task of filling the boots of Roy Keane, he slotted comfortably into a supremely talented midfield that included the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Carrick assisted in gaining the very best from a star studded attack that boasted Wayne Rooney in his prime and Cristiano Ronaldo on a meteoric rise.
“he probably didn’t get the credit he deserved at the time, but he’s starting to get that now.”
Paul Scholes, www.manutd.com.
This completed puzzle would lead to UEFA Champions League glory in 2008, as United famously defeated Chelsea in Moscow. This represented the finest hour of Carrick’s career, the culmination of a career’s work. A true player’s player, he won the 2012/13 Player’s Player of the year award at Manchester United, the year of Ferguson’s last title with United.
Ever a player associated with calmness and control, Carrick remained a stalwart amongst turbulent times at Old Trafford following the exit of Ferguson in 2013. Players came and went, but the Englishman remained a reliable constant in the United midfield.
The Red Devils appear to be on the cusp of more fruitful times under Jose Mourinho. A treble of cup wins in the 2016/17 season indicate positive change. Carrick deserves plenty of credit for his role in the transition between the Ferguson and Mourinho eras at Old Trafford. A veteran influence from which young players can learn, Carrick will be beneficial to Mourinho’s squad should he stick around.
That was a longer night than we had hoped for….
One step closer 🔴
Thanks to The Kid 😉 pic.twitter.com/kRPa0AbOyp
— Michael Carrick (@carras16) April 21, 2017
Recognised by the England national team for his domestic success, Carrick would be capped 34 times by England.
Following his testimonial, one would have to consider how long Carrick will remain a player at the top level. An eight-time Premier League winner, a Champions League Winner, a FA Cup winner and now a Europa League winner; if he were to retire tomorrow he would leave with the recognition and respect that he has long deserved.