Sunday’s game between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford will mark the final senior appearance in the illustrious career of Michael Carrick. A true great of the game, Carrick has won everything during his time at United, and is the last of the 2008 Champions League winners to leave the Theatre of Dreams. The former England international will now become a member of Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff for the coming years.
Summing up Carrick’s true stature within the game is difficult. He was born unto a generation of wonderfully gifted central midfielders, both in England and abroad. His work was often overshadowed by the talismanic traits of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, or by the wondrous passing ability the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Paul Scholes possessed. But the true greatness of a player is judged on their standing with the fans and their peers, and you’ll struggle to find anyone who didn’t admire Michael Carrick’s work.
The age-old debate over who’s better between Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes is one that’s never likely to be solved. Quite how England never found a way to play them all is beyond me, but if they had a player like Carrick anchoring the team, they might have managed it. The English game has never seen a player that can exert such control over a game as Carrick, dictating the tempo from start to finish at his leisure.
Carrick was absolutely pivotal in one of Manchester United’s greatest ever sides. The team that Manchester United assembled between 2006 and 2011 was phenomenal, winning four Premier League titles, three of which were consecutive. It was a team that made three Champions League finals, including that famous victory over Chelsea in Moscow to lift the club’s third European Cup. That squad had everything, a legendary goalkeeper in Edwin Van Der Sar, a fearsome back-line containing two of the best centre-halves of their generation in Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. It had Manchester United royalty in Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. And on top of all that, it had a devastating attack with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez accompanied by one of the greatest of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Michael Carrick was the glue that held that team of world beaters together. Throughout his career he’s been the unsung hero. Even since Sir Alex Ferguson left, he’s been a model of consistency throughout a turbulent time in the club’s history. A hero’s reception awaits at Old Trafford on Sunday, and deservedly so, for a true great of the modern game.
featured image credit manutd.com