Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has often been regarded as one of the most underrated players in England.
The former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur player has often been overlooked on the international stage, and isn’t necessarily first choice when you ask Red Devils supporters they like the most.
But, the job he does is an important one, breaking up play before getting his side moving in the right direction. And, statistics ahead of the crunch clash between United and Liverpool on Sunday show just how important he is.
Carrick has made just five appearances for Manchester United so far this season because of injury, but Louis van Gaal’s side have won them all. Without him, the side have won three, drawn four and lost four. That means more points in less than half the games.
The respect and experience that Carrick also garners can’t be forgotten, with the 33-year-old in his ninth season at the club. That makes him the third longest servant behind Darren Fletcher and captain Wayne Rooney.
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In total, Carrick has made 597 Premier League appearances, scoring 29 goals in the process. That proves he’s far from prolific, but he’s not in the side to make a difference on the scoresheet - at that end of the pitch at least.
Carrick has been the anchor that Manchester United had been missing at the start of the season, and the most notable thing about the club’s five consecutive victories is the lack of goals they’ve conceded. David de Gea has been in fine form in goal, of course, but the side haven’t let in more than one in this current run of wins. That starts from the front, but midfield protection of the defence is key. Carrick has provided that.
Carrick vs Gerrard
The battle between Carrick and Steven Gerrard could very well decide the outcome of tomorrow’s clash at Old Trafford, and whilst the Manchester United man is yet to pick up a goal or assist, he makes an average of 1.3 interceptions per game this season. Gerrard’s number is 0.5.
In terms of passes per game, it’s also in the favour of the United man with 66 compared to 55.2. That shows it’s Carrick who keeps things ticking over for the Red Devils. Van Gaal would like to see a few more key passes though, and that’s an area Carrick could start to influence as a game wares on.
Sir Alex Ferguson shelled out £18million to bring the player to Old Trafford in 2006, and despite helping himself to five titles under the Scot, questions are still asked about both how good Carrick is and whether it was money well spent.
If there was any doubt, this run may well have put an end to that.