After Manchester United claimed the Premier League title last season, many suggested it was the signing of Robin van Persie that swung the pendulum towards the red side of Manchester.
Van Persie was outstanding in his first season at Old Trafford and his 26 Premier League goals certainly gave United the edge in the title race, however the part Michael Carrick played in winning the title should not be underestimated.
The England international had, without a doubt, his best season in 2012/13 and was arguably more important than the Red Devils’ Ducth star.
Carrick, last season, became key to United and was without question the man who kept things ticking over. The 32-year-old is simple, but extremely effective - his composure and reading of the game is quite outstanding.
Without a solid central-midfield partner to play with, Carrick in the big games, must have been the first-name down on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team-sheet last season.
It’s simple to see, without Carrick, something is missing in the United side. His development in the red shirt of United has been admirable. He’s gone about his business extremely well, and only in the past year has been given the recognition he deserves.
You could even make a minor comparison with him and Darren Fletcher – for years the Scot was played in the most important games and he slowly made his way into a key first-team player at Old Trafford.
Fletcher, who in the past couple of years has been troubled with illness, will hope to regain his full fitness during the 2013/14 season and get his place back into the side at United.
However, for now, the main-man at United remains Carrick and with the season quickly approaching, he will again be key for David Moyes.
My belief is that United would cope better with the loss of Van Persie, or in-fact anyone else in the team, more than how they would cope if they lost Carrick.
This is partly down to the strength-in-depth in other positions at Old Trafford. If Van Persie did pick up an injury, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa can score enough goals between them to keep United firing.
Defensively, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans can all step-up to first-team roles if the ageing pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic struggle to perform.
However, in the middle of the park, Carrick has to be a main-stay.
Perhaps a midfield signing will take some of the pressure away from the England star, but I’m certain even if United do bring in a big name to help him, Carrick will still have a key role in any success under Moyes this season.
Carrick can once again help the Red Devils achieve Premier League glory this season.
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