FFC columnist Johnny Moon believes that Manchester United are a far more dangerous side with Michael Carrick in the middle but feels the emergence of Hargreaves means his days at Old Trafford could be numbered.
When Paul Scholes made his long awaited return in the FA Cup game at Tottenham, the Old Trafford faithful gave him a rapturous reception. What would have been lost in the euphoria that greeted the veterans return was the forlorn figure of Michael Carrick who had to make way. Clearly upset with the shaking of head and arms waving; you sensed the former Spurs man's realisation that he may now, have to play second fiddle.
Michael Carrick is one of the finest midfielders in the country, blessed with an excellent passing range, good vision and is the perfect anchor in front of the back four. Last season he formed a great relationship alongside Paul Scholes which was a key element in United's title victory; but it is one that has been threatened since the arrival of Anderson and more notably Owen Hargreaves.
There were many people who were surprised to see Sir Alex Ferguson splash out £17m for the former Bayern Munich player in the summer. Hargreaves is a player of genuine class and that isn't the issue; more the fact that Carrick was seemingly brought in at the eleventh hour as injury and wrangling over the transfer fee had prevented Hargreaves making his transfer from Germany. With both players on board, Fergie has an embarrassment of riches in the holding midfield slot.
It has been a debate that has rumbled on around Old Trafford in the last few months and one where the opinion is split. There are those who like the Keane esque abilities of Hargreaves while there are those who would prefer to see the playmaking attributes of Carrick.
I feel that there are United fans are swayed by the drive that Hargreaves brings to the midfield; having been brought up with Robson, Ince and then Keane; it is understandable but in my opinion United are a far more dangerous team with Carrick in it. He offers variation, flexibility; play it long, short, one touch and his almost telepathic like reading of Ronaldo and Rooney, was a vital component in last season's title win. He is also a much better tackler than he gets credit for.
So has Carrick got a long term future at Old Trafford or will he be moved on in the summer? In an ideal world United will hope that Carrick would stay as a part of the squad but the reality is that a player of his age needs first team football. He was one of the high profile omissions when England coach whittled down the squad and this wouldn't have gone unnoticed. Sir Alex has never been afraid to upgrade a team and if he feels long term Hargreaves is the answer, then Carrick will have to sit tight, be patient or move on. It is an issue not only at Manchester United but England too and where once again Hargreaves has seemingly come out on top once again. Time will tell as they say, but one look at the body language, shows me a player who realises his time in the holding role of the world's biggest club maybe up.