Michael Carrick: a Manchester United Legend Whose England Career Was a Disgrace6 min read
Emotional farewell for Carrick
It’s always quite emotional seeing a veteran of any club playing their final minutes and leaving the field for the last time. That’s what Manchester United fans had to go through when seeing Michael Carrick leave the pitch with his head held high last weekend. The Englishman will now join José Mourinho’s backroom staff and wade through the intricacies of being a coach.
After 12 years of being with the Red Devils, Carrick has won absolutely everything you can possibly win in club football. It was quite remarkable, and has perhaps stayed under the radar, but the Englishman is one of the most successful players to have played the game.
The former Tottenham midfielder was brought in by Sir Alex Ferguson for the 2006/07 season, replacing departing captain Roy Keane who had left the season beforehand for Celtic.
“We were looking for that central midfielder who could control the game and, of course, Michael moved to Tottenham,” Ferguson recalled.
“His vision of seeing a forward pass is his great quality. There’s quite a lot of midfield players that are A to B passers, but when you got one who can penetrate with his passes and have a balance in terms of receiving the ball in, they’re worth their weight in gold.”
A 24-year-old Carrick came into the team and took his time getting up to speed with the first team. It wasn’t until late September where the England international starting putting consecutive 90 minute matches together and influencing the game.
Unprecendented success at club level
He would go on to reach the FA Cup final, and lose in extra time to Chelsea, as well as the semi finals of the Champions League, where United were beaten convincingly at the San Siro by Milan. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom in his first year, as Carrick lifted the Premier League trophy – his first of five that he would win throughout his career.
Before Carrick was signed by Manchester United, Ferguson’s power and control over domestic, and European, football was slipping. Chelsea had the Russian Roman Abramovich’s money behind them and had won the previous two Premier Leagues titles; Arsenal had won the one before Chelsea; and Liverpool’s success in the Champions League was mightily impressive. The Red Devils were becoming complacent after immense success in the later 90s & early 2000s.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, Carrick would go on to become the lynchpin of Manchester United’s team and was, in fact, the catalyst for a new era for the North West club. One of the most successful periods ever seen in English football.
From 2006-2013, United would win five Premier League titles, two League Cups, six Community Shields and a Champions League trophy against rivals Chelsea.
The constant heartbeat of the team was Carrick – he was one of few players that remained constant, and consistent, throughout those seven years. The Englishman does not have an ego nor portrays a character of himself that loves attention. He is a very humble man from humble beginnings. Perhaps this is the reason as to why he was not always rated as he should have been.
Carrick’s England career a massive disappointment
Carrick might have had an illustrious career with his club, but playing for England could not have been further from success. It wasn’t just about the team’s underachievement, but the fact that he was constantly snubbed by his country. Somehow, against all common sense, Carrick was only capped 34 times in 14 years. A total shambles.
Carrick eventually had enough and even asked the Football Association not to pick him after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Pep Guardiola neatly summed up Carrick’s brilliance when paying tribute to him: “He’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life, by far. He’s the level of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”
Some praise. And richly deserved. Carrick was an artist that will not be truly appreciated until after his time. It is a sad fate for a player who was so talented and a genius on the pitch to have been completely misused by his country.
It’s fair to say that Carrick is, and always will be, a Manchester United legend. He achieved unprecedented success for his club and a true role model for the younger generation to look up to. The Englishman will be a massive asset to Mourinho’s backroom team and can provide fantastic insight into how the game should be played. If he intends to pursue the managerial route, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to one day see him manage his former club.