When Michael Carrick made the switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United in June 2006 I was excited. This was a player who was technically very very good and had been tipped for greatness. 8 years down the line and Michael Carrick has won multiple league titles, a Champions League trophy and even a FIFA Club World Cup, his career has been every bit a success.
In December former coach Sir Alex Ferguson heaped praise on the midfielder, recognising him as the best English player in the game. Speaking in an interview with BT Sport Ferguson discussed Carrick’s role in United’s starting eleven.
“They have still got great players – I still think Michael Carrick is the best central midfield player in English football, I really do.
“I think he is the best English player in the game.”
I have to say for once I disagree with the great man, I think Carrick has passed his best years in a red shirt. Over the past few weeks I have been highly critical of the role Carrick plays in LVG’s starting eleven. When he’s started in midfield he’s been too deep and he has struggled to quality of passing to turn defence into attack, preferring to pass sideways and backwards. When you play a back three and a midfielder is dropping into defence and not playing the ball out with pace and precision you lose the ability to break oppositions down because before you know it they have everyone behind the ball.
According to the official Manchester United website the England international will now miss this Saturday’s Barclays Premier League match against Leicester City with a muscle rupture to his calf, and could be out for over a month, meaning he will the subsequent fixtures against Cambridge United, West Ham, Burnley, Swansea City and Sunderland.
This is obviously a key blow to the strength in depth of LVG’s squad but it could also have a positive impact on the type of football United play in the up and coming fixtures.
You would expect to see Daley Blind drop into the a more central role, anchoring the midfield and spraying balls out wide. There could be a return for Ander Herrera who would give United an extra dimension in attack, with many supporters calling for the young Spaniard to be picked week in week out.
United should have enough talent to fill the void and with the two most creative players in the side playing in their preferred positions they are likely to create more chances than they have done in subsequent weeks. So for Louis van Gaal this injury crisis could be a blessing in disguise and may shed light on what his best United eleven really is.