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 Carrick unsung but totally at home in the famous No16 shirt 
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Post Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
By Patrick Barclay
Last Updated: 7:41PM GMT 10 Jan 2009


For once, even the hype merchants cannot bill Manchester United v Chelsea as a title decider. Not with Liverpool mounting possibly their strongest challenge since they last became champions in 1990.

It must have Sir Alex Ferguson worried. Otherwise the United manager would not be easing a question, stiletto-like, into the minds of Rafa Benitez's players, wondering aloud if they have the nerve required for the rest of the season – would he?

I put the point to Michael Carrick and, chuckling, this most elegant midfielder conceded: ''At the start of the season, people were looking at ourselves and Chelsea, but time has passed and Liverpool are still up there, so you have to take them very seriously. They're as big a threat as anyone and that's refreshing for the League as a whole, even if it's an extra challenge for us.''

That summarised the situation pretty well and, if I may digress for a moment, what a strange and complex beast this Premier League is.

On the one hand there is the lingering scandal of the Carlos Tevez affair that means every League table from 2007/8 until further notice will lie because West Ham are in it, and on the other hand Sundays like this, utterly enthralling for reasons that go to the heart of football as an entertainment.

Passion and commitment are as guaranteed as abundant class on the Old Trafford turf where, one May evening in 2005, Jose Mourinho's newly crowned Chelsea paraded a superiority that was to prove temporary.

That the difference between the sides remains as slim as the Moscow post John Terry shaved with his penalty in Moscow last May, letting United add the European title to the English, is arguable, though a United win this afternoon would tend to confirm an impression that the optimism which greeted Luiz Felipe Scolari's arrival at Chelsea was ill-founded.

Carrick can expect to be central in every sense, for midfield is the area to watch. ''It's a strong part of their team,'' said Carrick, ''and the bit that holds it together. You've got powerful lads with great ability, like Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack, with Deco in there and Mikel sitting behind. Chelsea are not as rigid as they used to be and that gives us problems. It should be tight as usual.''

And tactically interesting in a variety of ways, not least the matter of how to stiffen a midfield. While Chelsea have a specialist holding midfielder in Mikel, successor to the arch-exponent Claude Makelele – and Liverpool could be said to use two in Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso – Carrick and company share defensive duties.

''Football's about different systems,'' he said, noting that even Ferguson had adapted his teams' approaches. It does indeed seem barely a year or two since United's central pair were Nicky **** and Roy Keane.

''In his latter days, certainly, Keane was more of a holder. You didn't see so many of those surging runs. The older he got, the deeper he sat.''

The veteran now is Paul Scholes and Carrick, who treats him as a sort of living textbook, is happy to alternate with Scholes, or Anderson, or Darren Fletcher, or even Owen Hargreaves when United's most natural holding player recovers fitness.

"Obviously there's defending to be done, but it's not tied down to one player. When you have two in central midfield, one has to sit from time to time. It's not restricting. If you want to go forward, the other will cover. That is how we play – and we do defend well as a team.

"The centre-halves [Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic usually] are comfortable with it. I agree it's different with Chelsea because Mikel's always the deepest man. As for Liverpool, team shape is a big thing for them and it's working, just as it did for Valencia when Benitez was there.''

What United have done – though I preferred not to embarrass Carrick by putting this to him – is show how Lampard and Steven Gerrard could have played together for England had Sven-Goran Eriksson or Steve McClaren been able to instill in them the team sense Ferguson must so admire in Carrick.

And now Fabio Capello, having conveyed the message, is almost overwhelmed with midfield riches. As well as Lampard, Gerrard, Gareth Barry, Hargreaves when fit and someone called Beckham, he has Carrick, who orchestrated England's performance quite magnificently when they beat Germany in a Berlin friendly two months ago.

Carrick had taken a while to convince Capello, who left him out of some squads, and, as you might imagine, congratulations were less than effusive.

''He just said 'well done'. He's not a man of many words. But he knows what he wants and how to go about getting it – and you could tell how happy he was with everyone that night.''

With most of Croatia's conquerors missing, England showed strength in depth.

''We didn't play like it was a friendly. Keeping the momentum going meant a lot to everybody and said a lot about what the squad has become. There's a different atmosphere, a mood more like here at United, where the players are accustomed to going out and winning.''

Not that the comparison would be complete, he added, until England had their hands on a trophy.

Carrick himself has learned from disappointment. Among his boyhood heroes on Tyneside was Peter Beardsley and, once West Ham had converted him from a striker to a midfielder, you could see Carrick, too, had a rare appreciation of football.

The same soft feet also. Beautiful passes flowed from them. Shots exploded. He made the England squad and the biggest clubs beckoned. But then came pelvic injury and relegation and, when finally he moved, a mere £2.5 million changed hands.

It turned out to be brilliant business by the then Tottenham director of football Frank Arnesen (now at Chelsea) and, once the unfortunate Jacques Santini had given way to Martin Jol as manager, Carrick so revelled in a leading midfield role that Spurs made a profit of at least £15 million when he moved.

Given that his great virtues include the rarest among English footballers – patience on the ball – I wondered if he had ever felt a stranger in his own land. ''Never,'' Carrick replied.

''Maybe I've just been lucky in playing for people who like the game played that way – even with West Ham in the Championship, there were Glenn Roeder and Trevor Brooking.''

With United and their wealth of quality, he has become more penetrative. We can look forward to seeing today how his subtlety can be effective in a hectic midfield.

The English game has evolved to suit the 27-year-old Carrick, who said: ''I think you've got to give a lot of the foreign players and coaches credit for that. At the top level anyway – the game's come on in leaps and bounds.''

And did not the presence of 10 Englishmen in the most recent Champions League final speak for itself? ''If you're good enough, you'll get a chance.''

The tedious old argument about Englishmen being crowded out applied only to those not good enough to improve the national team ''and hopefully England are about to see the benefit''. It is hard to believe, for all the midfield competition, that Carrick will be absent from the adventure in South Africa next year.


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


aren't we in attacking crisis now? even our strikers can't come up with a goal & now we have to rely to our midfielders? yes, it will be an extra option if our midfielders are able to score goals.. but as for now, it's better for them to do their job as a midfielder rather than shooting for goals.. it's the striker who need to finish if off.. don't u think?


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


aren't we in attacking crisis now? even our strikers can't come up with a goal & now we have to rely to our midfielders? yes, it will be an extra option if our midfielders are able to score goals.. but as for now, it's better for them to do their job as a midfielder rather than shooting for goals.. it's the striker who need to finish if off.. don't u think?

well, i'd like 4 our team 2 b flexible, all of our team can contribute. u say dat u'd like 4 our strikers 2 score d goals. but d thing is, nearly ALL our strikers ARE NOT FINISHERS. roo n tevez were nvr going 2 b finishers, we all know dat. we thought berba would b dat plyr, but its not d case either. dats our problem i think..


26 thUTCp 2008
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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


aren't we in attacking crisis now? even our strikers can't come up with a goal & now we have to rely to our midfielders? yes, it will be an extra option if our midfielders are able to score goals.. but as for now, it's better for them to do their job as a midfielder rather than shooting for goals.. it's the striker who need to finish if off.. don't u think?

well, i'd like 4 our team 2 b flexible, all of our team can contribute. u say dat u'd like 4 our strikers 2 score d goals. but d thing is, nearly ALL our strikers ARE NOT FINISHERS. roo n tevez were nvr going 2 b finishers, we all know dat. we thought berba would b dat plyr, but its not d case either. dats our problem i think..


and it's not up to me if we didn't have any strikers who is a true finisher.. but then again, we got to work with whut we have..


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
and it's not up to me if we didn't have any strikers who is a true finisher.. but then again, we got to work with whut we have..

yes, we make do wit wut we hv. which is y i thought d system dat we had last season wuz already d best. but then we changed it again dis season. dunno wut 2 say bout our current situation..


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


aren't we in attacking crisis now? even our strikers can't come up with a goal & now we have to rely to our midfielders? yes, it will be an extra option if our midfielders are able to score goals.. but as for now, it's better for them to do their job as a midfielder rather than shooting for goals.. it's the striker who need to finish if off.. don't u think?


h hv a tradition of gettin goals from all over d park...its kinda dried up lately..but if our strikers arent scoring, it wud make sense 4 us 2 rely on our mids 2 make those contribution...apart from 7, d rest of our mids r not d goal scoring type...i think saf needs 2 personally encourage carrick & roo 2 hv a go at d goal more often


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
Fasha wrote:
king wrote:
Fasha wrote:
Loque wrote:
king wrote:
cant argue that he hs bcome our 1st choice mid..it wud b others rotating 2 partner him

too lazy 2 read d whole article..

yes i do believe among all our midfielders, he's d best. but i think he is more effective working wit sum1 else rather than him alone.

he needs a suitable partner in mid who can compensate his pylg style..


yea..i expect everyone won't bother to finish reading it up.. but a great article..


personally i liked d carrick-fletch partnership...both r young & got d legs 2 play box 2 box stuff...imo, these 2 wud b d perfect base 4 us 2 launch roo,7,berb & tvez in 2 attack


being as bias as i am, it's certain to me that Carrick needs to be there, so the only thing i'm thinking of rite now is who to partner him in central midfield.. Fletcher would be perfect as his partner, but sometimes i felt like Ando can do the job as well.. However the problem is with Ando, his form was up & down this season which is totally different from last season.. And Scholesy, given the age he's in now, maybe his playing time on the field would be cut short.. but he still got it in him but he can't last in 90 mins.. so obviously, Fletcher would be the one to partner Carrick depending on his current form..

my prob wit our mid is, there's such a lack of goalscoring threat. we dont hv a scholesy or robbo anymore, who'll score goals from d mid. i'd want them 2 score more from d mid, give us further option in att


aren't we in attacking crisis now? even our strikers can't come up with a goal & now we have to rely to our midfielders? yes, it will be an extra option if our midfielders are able to score goals.. but as for now, it's better for them to do their job as a midfielder rather than shooting for goals.. it's the striker who need to finish if off.. don't u think?


h hv a tradition of gettin goals from all over d park...its kinda dried up lately..but if our strikers arent scoring, it wud make sense 4 us 2 rely on our mids 2 make those contribution...apart from 7, d rest of our mids r not d goal scoring type...i think saf needs 2 personally encourage carrick & roo 2 hv a go at d goal more often

my point exactly


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
but King, Carrick is shy in front of the goal.. that's his main problem.. apart from that he's excellent in my view..hehe..


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Post Re: Michael Carrick holds the key to United superiority?
Fasha wrote:
but King, Carrick is shy in front of the goal.. that's his main problem.. apart from that he's excellent in my view..hehe..

if he can start scoring (which i think he can), he'll b more than excellent


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