When you think of key players for Manchester United this season, the first name that comes to mind is a certain Robin van Persie with his 16 league goals already in 2012/13. But, one player that seems to help the team so much, yet receives very little credit is Michael Carrick.
Compared to previous midfields this is considered to be one of the weakest that the Red Devils have had, and despite that they are sitting pretty seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Manchester City boast a midfield consisting of players like Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri, and when you compare that to Tom Cleverly, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney - who has dropped back at times this season - you can see a major gulf in class…or can you?
In the thrilling encounter between the two Manchester giants, United were dominant throughout most of the game until the closing stages. During that dominance, Carrick was essential in keeping possession and dictating play, and despite that he is still not regarded as a top midfielder.
Interestingly, Carrick so far has only got four assists in the Premier league (granted he is more of a defensive midfielder) but his most impressive stat is his passing.
Something that really shows the influence of Michael Carrick is the performance of the team without him. Against Sunderland when Carrick was substituted, the Black Cats became the better team at the end of the game (although they still lost) and more recently the FA Cup draw against West Ham.
The Hammers played extremely well and were arguably the better side too, but a major problem for the Red Devils was retention of the ball - something Carrick is very good at.
He may not be the most renowned player to wear the Manchester United shirt, but he deserves to be. His vision, his work rate and his all round passing ability rivals the best midfielders in world football.
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