In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
Michael Carrick is perhaps the epitome of a footballing unsung hero.
Carrick was never a prolific goalscorer – netting 31 times throughout his 19-year playing career. He was arguably overlooked too often as an England prospect, even in the light of his ‘exemplary’ passing display against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup (after being dropped for the following quarter-final). which had preceded his move to Manchester United that same summer.
Though it seems fair to say that Sir Alex Ferguson knew exactly what he was getting.
What United had bought with their £18.6m Roy Keane replacement was a future five-time Premier League winner and one-time European champion. A recurring theme of the sides that would include headline-makers such as Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie, Carrick was arguably the ingredient that made those Manchester United teams of the time so successful.
That’s what his coaches say, anyway. Ferguson once labelled him as the ‘best central midfielder in English football’, while United coach Mike Phelan was just as complimentary, calling Carrick the ‘conductor of the orchestra’, mentioning him in the same breath as Andres Iniesta and teammate Paul Scholes (via BBC Sport).
Put simply, it is difficult to earn nearly 500 games for Manchester United by being average – and certainly not at the time when they competed for the game’s top prizes year in, year out.
Within three years of being part of United’s midfield, Carrick had clocked up a Premier League hat-trick in successive title wins, to go with the Champions League glory of 2008. It was clear that his addition to the United squad had been nothing short of a success.
His longevity spoke to his enduring qualities as a footballer, with the midfielder a Premier League regular right up until his final season in 2017/18, in which he appeared just five times in all competitions, ending his playing days as a United captain.
And while the club are no longer in the surroundings of the Premier League table that had become the norm during the pinnacle of Carrick’s Old Trafford career, it almost goes to illustrate the value of his role in the past decade or so and the effect he had following his arrival at Manchester United.
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