Was Carrick underappreciated?

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has announced this week that he will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season aged 36.

The former West Ham and Tottenham player has spent most of this season on the sideline, after suffering a heart problem in a league cup game against Burton in September.

Despite not featuring much under José Mourinho, Carrick has enjoyed a trophy laden career at United. He was an integral part of Sir Alex Fergurson’s team between 2006 and 2013 and he will rightly be remembered as a club legend.

Despite this Carrick has gone under the radar for most fans. His style of football is quite relaxed – you do not see him sprinting into challenges and maybe that is why he was never rated highly by several fans.

There was even a time when United fans felt he should have been sold. When he signed from Spurs in 2006 the response was united in the press – the Manchester club had overpaid for the Englishmen.

Spurs paid £2.75million for Carrick but United were about to pay almost £19million in 2006. These days that is pennies for a midfielder in the peak of his career but in 2006 that was a lot for someone who did not come with a reputation of winning trophies.

Michael Carrick career stats
A look at Michal Carrick’s career from his youth days at West Ham to his trophy laden time at Manchester United.

The unassuming Geordie has said that Paul Gascoigne was his hero growing-up and took over Roy Keane’s number 16 shirt when he signed. But he knew his game had to improve.

“When he wasn’t in the United team there was a clear imbalance in the midfield. His role is similar to Xabi Alonso at Bayarn Munich or Sergio Busquets at Barcelona. Carrick allowed the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Giggs, Nani and Berbatov to score goals.”

Despite the backlash to his signing he achieved a great deal of success at United. Although he never got the recognition he deserved until the twilight of his career.

There were a number of times when England managers overlooked him – he only has 34 caps to his name which is a shame for someone with his talent. He might have been better appreciated in Spain or Germany, but his unassuming style does not get fans on the edge of their seats.

When he was not in the United team there was a clear imbalance in the midfield. His role is similar to Xabi Alonso at Bayern Munich or Sergio Busquets at Barcelona. Carrick allowed the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Giggs, Nani and Berbatov to score goals.

His retirement has gone under the radar, much like his career. He will not get the send off say Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard received but his importance to United cannot be questioned.

For years Arsenal fans have said Patrick Viera was never replaced, but a gaping whole was filled by Carrick admirably for United’s midfield.

Few players can read the game and adjust tactically like Carrick can. His ability and discipline allowed Sir Alex to deploy just the one defensive midfielder, in a time where managers were using two.

Carrick is a winner, and will no doubt go one to make a great coach. But if his coaching career is anything like his football career it will be a shame if fans and pundits continue to dismiss the Englishman.

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