Is Michael Carrick England’s most undervalued midfielder?

Manchester United

Many players have a CV as rich and filled with trophies as Michael Carrick. 5 League titles, a European crown, multiple domestic triumphs and the Club World Cup, Scholes Carrick has won everything that’s there to be won. His only disappointment if any would be a lack of success internationally. His omission from English squads have baffled many a pundit. But Sir Alex knew of his quality and always selected him for the biggest matches of the season.

Overshadowed by players like Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, Carrick can easily hold his own against most players. He is arguably one of Europe’s best and most consistent midfielders over the past decade. Harry Redknapp often talked of his ability to understand where his teammates would be instinctively.

An old-school player, Carrick will win you games not by those spectacular goals from long range but his ability to find that open teammates from improbable angles. Yes, he does score important goals – in the 4-3 aggregate win over City in the League Cup semi-final, two in the 7-1 win over Roma among others. He has taken his time to impress managers but once he breaks into the side, he tends to stay there. Carrick took his time to win over the Stretford End faithful but he will remain in their hearts long after he is gone. Injury ruled him out of the first 3 months Louis van Gaal’s first season and only made his first appearance in early November. But he was vital as United secured Champions League qualification. Even in the current campaign, Mourinho was initially hesitant to select Carrick but he seems to be the key to the unlocking Pogba’s talent. Mercurial Carrick has lost just once this season, in the inconsequential defeat against Hull City.

Anyone who has watched Carrick’s play will notice shades of Scholes. The long ball over the full back, attack breaking tackles, football IQ and vision is reminiscent of Scholes game. United fans have immortalized this their song for Carrick. Fifteen years since his England bow, the 34 appearances to his name is baffling. Any other country, he should be approaching a 100. Underrated, underused, underappreciated, Carrick’s international career epitomizes the failure of the greatest generation of England players since the World Cup winners.

This is not a case in club context. He has over 400 appearances in Red over 11 years. He has remained in the team when bigger names have come and gone. Players past and present, pundits and coaches he has worked with have rightly named him England’s Pirlo. He will be rewarded for his services for Manchester United with a testimonial in June. The team from his greatest day in Moscow is being assembled for the match. It would be surprise if United choose not to extend Carrick’s contract. But whenever and whatever manner he leaves the club, Carrick will take his place in the pantheon of Old Trafford legends.