Manchester United fans have been on the receiving end of embarrassing draws and defeats this season which has seen the North West club plummet to 6th in the league table after 11 games. This was the reason, the fans did not find it shocking when Michael Carrick was restored in the starting line-up against Bob Bradley’s Swansea on Sunday.
The former Tottenham midfielder’s career was at a time reported to have reached it’s peak and on the decline after he failed to make the starting line-up in the league this season before the game against Swansea. At 35, Carrick appears to have lost yards of pace and stamina which once made him the perfect partner to Paul Scholes in central midfield during the time of Sir Alex Ferguson. This season, the former Spurs midfielder has seen the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Mauroune Fellaini preferred ahead of him in the pivot central midfield role. Under Jose Mourinho, United are set-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which has seen them play more cautiously.
Carrick on his part, has performed admirably when called upon having played in the Europa League and League Cup several times. On Sunday, even the most loyal Carrick’s fan will admit the midfielder played mainly due to the suspension of Herrera as the Spaniard would have been Mourinho’s first choice to partner Fellaini. Having been given the chance to stake his claim for a regular starting spot, the Englishman did not disappoint as he controlled the pace and tempo of the game from deep at the same time starting most of United’s attacks by recycling the ball once it was recovered from the Swansea players. On the day, the midfielder made three blocks which was the highest of any player on the pitch. This wasn’t all as Carrick went on to attempt 88 passes succeeding with 84 which was the second highest of any player on the pitch slightly behind Paul Pogba who opened the scoring and played ahead of him. Though he wasn’t physically strong like most of his colleagues, the midfielder’s calmness and experience should never be understated having watched United lose several games due to naivety and costly mistakes with the games against Chelsea and Manchester City prime examples.
At the end of the Swansea game which United won 3-1 it is clear that Michael Carrick deserves more chances in the starting line-up despite it been obvious he might not be at his peak at present but judging from his performance on Sunday and this season the Englishman is United’s second best midfielder slightly behind Ander Herrera who has been the light in United’s dark team.