Michael Carrick adds to the long list of pointless testimonials

Football is chock-a-block with odd traditions and trivialities; we certainly have plenty of ritual and pomp in this game. But none, surely, is more pointless than player testimonials.

Last weekend saw an undisputed Manchester United icon play his final game in a Red Devils shirt and say an emotional farewell to his life-long club.

It was tear-jerking stuff.

Oh, wait. Sorry, we got that wrong. We just assumed that must have been the case.

It actually saw Michael ‘So Underrated I’m Overrated’ Carrick & Friends have a kick-about after the 35 year-old midfielder had served his club for 11 years with another season still left to play. Wow, quite the anti-climax, no?

Clearly…

It seems a bit pointless to us.

Firstly, Carrick is far from being a long-term United hero. Yes, he has served his club loyally and 11 years of service is nothing to be sniffed at. It’s good commitment but, come on, it’s a bit like your mother renewing her library card for the past decade. In fact, it’s a bit like anyone doing anything slightly inconspicuously for just over a ten years.

Commendable, but not in need of recognition.

Though let’s assume you disagree. 11 years of service is 11 years of service after all. So he deserves his testimonial, right?

We’re not so sure.

For how many of those 11 years did anyone give a damn? Michael Carrick only became interesting after Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs left and, even then, it was only for being underrated. Who cares? Sure enough, we all sung Carrick’s praises to such an extent that he began to pick up some sort of undeserved deified status. And that’s a concerning thought.

Who wants a testimonial for being underrated?

That’s like saying, ‘Mike, we didn’t appreciate you for 11 years and, to be honest, thought you were a bit average but, hey, we need you now. So how do you fancy a big belated thanks? Cheers, Cazza!’. What a load of rubbish.

When you think of United legends, you think Charlton, Keane and Best. Absolutely world-class footballers. After them you might think Beckham, Law and Cantona. It would take some time, and quite a lot of confusion, to come up with Michael Carrick’s name next. It doesn’t sound so inspiring.

But, like we said, 11 years of service is still quite the commitment. The testimonial is far from criminal.

But what if ol’ Mike fancies another year or two? Surely the testimonial should wait until then, no?

Apparently not. It simply couldn’t wait. Because, in the eagerness to force through yet another contract extension, the brains behind the club just so happened to organise this convenient testimonial for Carrick at the perfect time. It doesn’t sound like bait at all, really.

So, yes, Mr Carrick actually enjoyed his big send off a year early. Oh, dear.

The bloke is 35 for Christ’s sake. He’s not going anywhere.

Won’t it feel awkward for the poor sod to step back out onto the pitch that he was tearily waved off from? He’ll have the horror of facing that awkward second goodbye you have to endure after leaving a mate, only to head the same way as them after. Excruciating.

Let’s be honest, other than the almost cute triviality of it all, that testimonial was fairly pointless.

And we think it reflects every other one out there.

Most testimonials come too early. Most of them come for that player that sticks about, but isn’t quite a club hero. And most of them are frustrating excuses for the club to boost its image or keep a player on board.

Isn’t there a better way to say goodbye?

The profits from testimonials often go to the player themselves or their nominated charity. Now, the players don’t need the money. Period. They have a retirement fund larger than Sam Allardyce’s take-out orders. The charities no doubt accept the money with open arms and there’s everything to admire about those as the destination for the proceeds. But clubs make far more from competitive games. Perhaps they’d appreciate those a little more.

So, aside from the weak financial excuses, what else is there to support a testimonial? Perhaps it is just a nice way to send a player off. We’re just being too cynical.

Granted, if a footballer has shown the passion and dedication to a club that is so often lost today, they deserve some kind of thank you.

But what’s wrong with the actual end of the season, before the football hangover kicks in?

What’s wrong with the last home game, where all the fans who’ve turned up every week will be regardless? Surely more passion and appreciation will emit from a crowd after the last match at their own beloved stadium.

Dedicate the match to the player; stick them on the programme, give them man of the match, let them have a lap of honour. Whatever. There’s more than enough opportunity about when people still give two. Hell, John Terry showed that.

And, finally, testimonials are financial obligations and thus financial drains on the already squeezed fan-base of football teams.

If your club has gone so far as to honour one of its players with a testimonial, then surely most fans would feel obliged to turn up. The standard adult tickets for Carrick’s were £25 at their lowest and £40 at their highest.

That sort of money is enough to show a partner your appreciation instead, whom we’re sure has done a hell of a lot more for you than some handsomely paid footballer has.

That’s just one more note-shaped kick in the teeth for struggling football fans. That’s one more argument at home about forking out for the football. One more weekend leaving the kids indoors to go and watch the football. One more cost that most people simply cannot afford.

So, if testimonials are going to continue their sapping existence, can they at least be purposeful, please?

If they’re not going to disappear and turn up at more appropriate times and places, with more affordable prices and relevant stars, can they at least occur at the end of the player’s contract too?

Is that one small thing too much to ask for our £4o donation?