Michael Carrick. England’s one of the most underrated and undervalued players. The 35-year old has been an extremely vital part of Manchester United’s success in the last decade or so but has always gone under the radar and at times hasn’t received the recognition that he has deserved. But he has gone about his business with no fuss and has continued to pull the strings for the Mancunians in the middle of the park.
It has been the same story this season as well. After Jose Mourinho took over the reins at Old Trafford in the summer, the Portuguese rarely used the senior statesman in the first few months in the starting XI. United started brightly, though, but soon things began to unravel for the Red Devils and Mou, with the midfield duo of record signing Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini failing to blossom. Following some poor results, Carrick was reinstated in the midfield and he has never looked back.
The control that he offers from the deep areas, his ability to find his teammates with surgical precision and his intelligence in reading the game and thwarting attacks is invaluable to this United side. Moreover, playing Carrick in a deeper role has liberated Pogba and the Frenchman looks to be at his best when the former Tottenham midfielder is playing alongside him. His calmness and his leadership are an asset to Mourinho and United.
However, Carrick is in the wrong side of 30’s now and while the quality is still there, playing week in week out will definitely take its toll on his ageing body. At 35, it will be harsh on him to demand the amount of physical exertion that would come with featuring in each game.
Carrick is in the last 6 months of his contract with United, and as per reports, there have been no negotiations yet, which means he is now free to talk to other clubs regarding a move in the summer. But Jose did give an indication that a new deal will be awarded for United’s mainstay in the midfield soon. And there is no question about it, United should be extending Carrick’s stay by another year.
Carrick may be getting old, but he still remains invaluable to this team and should remain a part of the rebuilding process as Mourinho goes about building a new team. However, what United also need to do is, find an able replacement for the 35-year old at the earliest.
It would be wrong to demand Carrick play each and every game at this stage of his career. But the Red Devils don’t have a suitable backup in his position. Pogba’s value is in his forward forays in the attacking third, while Herrera provides the energy in the middle of the park and is best suited to the box-to-box role. Fellaini has shown in the past that he cannot be trusted in the longer run with such a responsibility. So, it becomes imperative that United identify a proper replacement for Carrick and sign him up, probably in the summer of 2017.
There is a good chance that the new signing might struggle to adapt immediately which makes Carrick’s contract extension more important. The 35-year old will be able to guide the new addition through the tough period and whoever the new addition is, he could only benefit from the wealth of experience that Carrick possesses. And Carrick can step in into the line-up as and when needed as Mourinho looks to ease the replacement into the squad.
There are only positives that will come from United extending Carrick’s contract and they should act quickly and tie down the senior pro at the earliest. However, bringing in a replacement is also extremely important and Mourinho needs to work towards that in the summer window if not in January.