Since losing 3-0 to PUMA team Newcastle on January 4, Manchester United have won eight and drawn one in the Premier League. In that period, they have faced Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea and have overtaken city rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Michael Carrick has started every game.
Carrick has often faced criticism from people outside the club who expect him to be part Roy Keane, part David Beckham. But inside the club they know his value. Both Paul Scholes and Sir Alex Ferguson have spoken of his quality in recent weeks, and when you look at his statistics, you see why.
Carrick is the player who keeps the game moving for Manchester United. Comfortable receiving the ball in tight areas, he has received the ball at least 50 times every game. Yet where some midfielders statistics drop after they have been given the ball, Carrick’s just improve.
In every game since that loss to Newcastle, his pass completion rate has been above 85%. In fact, the lowest it has been is 87%, and he has passed 90% on four occasions. Against Arsenal he completed 91% of his passes and in the match against Liverpool he completed an incredible 94%, showing that he raises his game against strong opposition.
Operating from a deep-lying position, he has been given more license to go forward since the return of Paul Scholes. Although he only has one goal and two assist in this period, he often starts the moves that lead to goals. Often he will break from deep and hit perfect passes to the wingers who then create chances for the strikers.
Strong in the tackle and hard to knock off the ball, his elegant play would perhaps be more suited to a continental game but there is no way Sir Alex Ferguson would let him leave. He’s rarely injured, is a quiet man off the pitch and allows his football to do the talking. A model professional and a well-rounded person, he is the type of player that all young players should aspire to emulate.