This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.
For obvious reasons, it is hard to predict just what would be different at a club if they had made a signing the best part of 15 years ago. However, with Dominic Fifield writing in the Athletic this week about how Crystal Palace need to invest in the January transfer window, he provided a timely reminder of how the Eagles once thought they had the signing of Michael Carrick in the bag.
Rollback 15-and-a-half-years to the summer of 2004 and the Eagles had just shocked much of English football by winning promotion to the Premier League, despite then-manager Iain Dowie joining in late December of 2003 with Palace sat in 19th in the league.
Going up via the play-off method, Neil Shipperley managed to score the only goal of the game – a close-range shot after a saved Andy Johnson shot – to push Palace back into the big time for the first time since 1997. Indeed, the Eagles faced Alan Pardew’s West Ham that day, with a 23-year-old Michael Carrick playing in the opposite 11.
With Palace promoted and in the Premier League, Fifield reports that Simon Jordan and Iain Dowie were confident that a deal could be forced through for the midfielder – who went to win every domestic competition available to him in England – but it turned out he had other ideas.
A bid of £3.5m was reportedly accepted, however, as the report states, “Carrick had no interest in the move and merely ignored Dowie’s calls”. While perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that such a sought after player (Independent) did not fancy Selhurst Park, the biggest damage done was that the Palace had not identified any other targets, per the report.
In the end, Carrick went onto join Tottenham and kickstarted a career which would struggle to be matched by many other Englishmen as he won five Premier League titles, the FA Cup, both the Champions League and Europa League as well as 2 EFL Cups.Palace, on the other hand, got relegated on the final day of the season by a single point and then didn’t manage to reach the Premier League again until their latest promotion in 2013.
With Palace playing mainly a variation of Aki Rihilatti, Ben Watson, Tom Soares and Michael Hughes in central midfield, there’s no doubt they could have done with someone of the quality of Carrick. And while you can never successfully predict what would have happened if he was to join, the margins were so fine for relegation that season that any sort of improvement could have made the difference.
What could Carrick have brought to Palace? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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