Michael Carrick: The Underrated Beating Heart of Manchester United

| February 21, 2013 | 3 Comments
Michael Carrick

Image courtesy of independent

Michael Carrick is often derided as overrated or average and internationally his career never really got started. He’s considered a passer, a retainer of possession, but a player incapable of dominating a game. I’d argue that he’s been a key part of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United this season and deserves credit for keeping his place in a side which has good quality and is running away with the Premier League title.

Michael Carrick the Engine

This season his statistics have held up against comparable players at other top clubs. He wins possession for his team every 12 minutes (Arteta at Arsenal does so every 13 and Mikel at Chelsea does so every 12). Michael Carrick is more robust than he is given credit for. He is 6’2” and is used by Ferguson as a competent makeshift centre back. He wins a tackle every 45 minutes which is less impressive than some of his rivals (Arteta 25 and Mikel 24).  Most of the time, Carrick lets play unfold in front of him and allows more energetic players to battle for the ball. Having played over 200 times for Manchester United he has a deep understanding of the positions required.

Michael Carrick, it’s in his pass, that’s where it is!

It’s Michael Carrick’s passing that makes him really excel. He’s a classic deep-lying playmaker – sitting deep, picking up the ball in pockets of space and clipping the ball into forward players. This season he’s averaging 81.7 passes per game (Arteta 85.1 Mikel 62.8). However, it’s not just the volume of passes that’s so impressive, Michael Carrick regularly delivers balls into dangerous areas in the final third and brings his wingers into the game. He’s been a regular starter this season and Ferguson appreciates that his passing quality is essential for sparking United’s moves.

Why is Michael Carrick underrated?

Michael Carrick suffers from not being obviously impressive. Lampard scores more goals, Hargreaves looked busier and Gerrard made more runs. These players were all typically effective. However, Carrick is more continental, and very similar to Xavi Alonso and will always play better in a team which dominates possession where he can spray the ball around.

The England team has been traditionally reactive, requiring players to run with the ball or make runs into the box. This kind of system suits a Gerrard or a Lampard. Michael Carrick is most comfortable dictating the game from deep, and so he’s not a great fit for his national side.

Expect Carrick to perform well for United for two or three more years. His qualities aren’t ones which will suffer to greatly with age. Expect him to continue to be overlooked as a leading player for the England team. Roy Hodgson knows his only chance of proceeding at the World Cup in Rio is with a reactive and defensive team – one unsuited to Carrick.

But what do you think of Carrick? Do you agree with our article? As always, let us know in the comments section below.

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Category: Coaching, Coaching Blog

About the Author ()

Teacher, Multiple Sports Coach, Advanced Personal Trainer and Soccer Manager in London, England. A 1st Class Honours in Sports and Exercise Science (BSc) and Post Graduate Certificate in Secondary Education (PGCE). Oh yes, did I mention I like Sport?

Comments (3)

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  1. john says:

    Carrick is crap and overrated. end of. I don’t know where you people come up with this crap

  2. Isa says:

    I believe Carrick is similar to mikel in the fact that give them space to pass the ball they can look better then they actually are. Carrick under pressure like Obi Mikel are average, such as when you close them down, give them space they can hurt you with passes. Carrick for me is better then Mikel generally, however comparing Carrick to Alonso seems a bit to far fetched. Alonso is world class midefied player, Carrick a good midfield player nothing more or nothing less. Alonso under preasure is more assured and conveys more confidence, and we must remember Alonso played in Liverpool team that wasn’t as good as the Manchester United team.

    • SportGent says:

      I couldn’t agree more ISA! Alonso is world class and does have far more to offer, most notably, goals! Carrick does need time on the ball. I suppose i can empathise with Carrick’s playing manner. At the standard of Soccer i play, nothing to shout about, I too play very well as a centre midfielder when I have time to pick passes. The article was made to make a point. You need players in a team who you know will do a particular task the way you intend, for the good of the team. Carrick won’t vear away from the script like some players and never makes himself a liability. What other players do you think are underrated and why?

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