Michael Carrick was a stalwart of Manchester United’s midfield in a side which won countless titles, a Champions League and the Club World Cup. To this day, I think many do not appreciate all that Carrick offered these great United sides. For example, the England national team severely underestimated him, and to their detriment may I add.
He was not just a defensive midfielder tasked with screening the defence. He was such a capable passer, both long and short. His early days saw some crucial goals, my favourite being his brace against AS Roma in our 7-1 rout. He was also an incredible interceptor of the ball, winning the ball back and then feeding Paul Scholes to impose his own majestic talent on proceedings.
But beyond all these remarkable attributes, his ability to recycle possession with his short passing whilst biding his time before finding the forwards with his vertical, low passing was his best weapon. And again, often unappreciated. So taking into account all this, what can our current midfielders learn from United’s former number 16?
Well for starters, his ability to know when to simplify a situation could apply to a degree in helping to improve the game of Paul Pogba. I tend to think Pogba should play further forward anyway, but when Ole deploys Pogba in a two with the in-form Scott McTominay, he has to learn when to keep it simple at times. This is especially prevalent when next to the Scottish international, as there is more of an onus on Pogba to conduct the midfield and keep the ball under our hold. There have been too many times when Pogba overcomplicates things and loses possession in vital areas. A balance between simplicity and his dynamic talent in midfield should create an even better midfielder than we have now.
Carrick being a key part of the current coaching staff will allow him to personally influence our midfielders and give them pointers on how to improve. Fred is a key one, who we have already seen having improved performances and could certainly make a good midfielder with a bit of Carrick’s composure rubbing off on him. At times, the Brazilian looks rushed, but the ability to calm it down a bit would be invaluable for his improvement.
Last, but definitely not least,we come to James Garner. He has shown so many similarities to Carrick in his small amount of appearances with us and has a certain vertical pass in his locker which is a fantastic point for him. Carrick should be a huge help to him and his development, as long as he remains on the coaching staff.
So to conclude, Carrick as the player and now the coach should be a key influence in how our midfielders can develop their game for the better.