Manchester United fans were ringing Michael Carrick’s praises after Sunday’s 3-1 win against Swansea.
The midfielder has been a rare sight this season - today was his first Premier League start of the season - but Jose Mourinho’s team was much more composed with him in the midfield.
Peter Schmeichel said as much. “We look a different more confident side with Carrick in midfield,” the former United ‘keeper tweeted.
Two stats suggest Mourinho should give the former Tottenham man more minutes.
Firstly, Carrick completed 95 per cent of his passes against Swansea. United don’t get that type of ball retention with Marouane Fellaini in the team.
Secondly, United have won in each of the six games Carrick has played this season.
Yet in Mourinho’s eyes, it’s simply impossible for Carrick to play every week.
“I would love to play him every game but that is not possible.” said Mourinho, via the Manchester Evening News.
“Why? For the same reason that I cannot go to the gym every day any more! He started today and he played very, very well.”
So, according to Mourinho, father time is catching up to Carrick. Yet there’s a problem in his theory - the United manager has selected Zlatan Ibrahimovic, also 35, in 17 games this season, including 14 starts.
And with eight goals for the season, age is certainly not holding the Swede back too much.
Mourinho: No concerns about Ibra's drought
Ibrahimovic had scored just once in his past 11 games before he fired a brace against Swansea. Yet Mourinho wasn’t concerned about the striker’s goal drought because he was contributing in other areas of the game.
“He is not a player who lacks confidence. I used to say that a striker who doesn't score goals and does nothing else is one player less,” the United manager said.
“But a striker that doesn't score goals but does everything else is a very important player for the team. He wasn't scoring goals but he was doing everything else.
“He was working defensively, in the build up and the second phase of the attack, he was giving assists and contributing towards the goalkeeper that was playing against us always being the man of the match.
“He was doing so many things that I wasn't worried but today we needed goals and he got them.”