Michael Carrick: The Premier League’s Undervalued Playmaker
By Sumit Rehal
Michael Carrick has found himself to be once again Manchester United’s unlikely hero since affirming himself in the middle of the park following a year of being overlooked.
This is not the first time that the Premier League veteran has seen himself be recalled to action to get the midfield back in gear. Carrick is often phased out of teams for flashier, bigger personalities in hope for United to be more creative in the midfield but it so happens it is during these times that the team sees themselves chasing.
The first time that Carrick saw himself being more valued by the United faithful, was during Paul Scholes first retirement, where the midfielder took on the ranks to be more direct with his passing to fill the gap left by the “Ginger Ninja”. He even earned himself the chant “Can you believe it’s not Scholes? It’s Carrick you know”.
In Carrick’s first eight starts this season, United have scored 65% of their season’s goals. This stat is directly linked to Carrick’s ability to turn defence into attack. Ever since the days of Cristiano Ronaldo, the midfielder would break the play down from United’s third and play it long to the wing for the number 7 to cut in and shoot it home.
Carrick is cut from a cloth of players that are classed as a “Regista”. The Regista is midfielder that sits between the defence and midfield to calm play down at the back and transform the play to attack. Players that are famed for this trait in recent times are names such as Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez. Players such as these are praised for the calmness on the ball and tactical genius, yet the pace of the Premier League hides the mastery of the Regista.
If Carrick was applying his role in Italy or Spain, perhaps he would be in the UEFA Team Of The Year sheet but he his limelight is stolen by other roles within England. The fact that mainland Europe has been more conventional with the 433 and diamond formations for decades before phased to England is a reason why the Regista has been less valued as it works best within these formations.
Carrick hasn’t had the engine of Gerrard or the ferocity of Roy Keane but he has been crucial to United’s success in the last 10 years. His presence had allowed the likes of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antonio Valencia to create chances in the final third.
More recently, Paul Pogba had been under scrutiny for not matching his £90m price tag when he first rejoined United. When Carrick was reintroduced by Jose Mourinho towards the end of last year, Pogba soon found fantastic form and took charge in the opposing area.
Carrick is United’s second longest serving player after Rooney and United will struggle to find a presence like him as he approaches the age of 36 this year. Perhaps Ander Herrera can fill the void as he’s becoming the United fan favourite with his work ethic and is a shout as future captain.
We wait to see what direction the Premier League midfield takes with a new crop of superstar managers throwing in their experiments.
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