The Michael Carrick conundrum

Man United midfielder Michael CarrickDuring this stage of the season, we are always treated to some outrageous rumours as our nation’s tabloids attempt to fill their column inches. But one rumour which has kept resurfacing over the past 12 months or so is what Manchester United are going to do with Michael Carrick.

The midfielder’s form hasn’t been the best this season and with the re-emergence of Anderson and Darren Fletcher’s growing importance within the team, rumour would have us believe that manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to part ways with the former Tottenham man.

Interestingly, Ferguson has previously explained that Carrick is always a slow starter to the season which is why we never see the best of him until around Christmas time. So as a player who doesn’t get going until half way through the season, and who has been searching for form for a while now, surely Carrick himself must be worried about his future at Old Trafford?

Since joining the club in 2006, the England man has been an integral part of Ferguson’s side and his contribution largely goes unnoticed. The best part of his game has always been his ability to split defences apart with his passing, or the ability to keep the ball. He has by no means lost his ability, but regular injuries, particularly to his ankle, have disrupted a season which has seen United stutter their way to the top of the Premier League table.

So at 29, and with an injury history which seems to be getting longer with age, is it time for Ferguson to cut his losses with his midfield maestro? I think disposing of him this season would leave a big whole in the heart of United. Roy Keane has never been replaced, Paul Scholes is creeping closer to his pipe and slippers and the mystical character known as Owen Hargreaves seems no where near making a return to the first-team.

Without making a big fuss about it, Carrick has been incredibly loyal to United, and that is a trait Ferguson appreciates. Form is temporary and if he can get a run of games then I’m sure Carrick will come good for the all-important title run-in.

I sincerely hope his form picks up soon though because now Dimitar Berbatov has won the fans over with goals to go with his quality, the Stretford End have started to turn to Carrick has their new boo-boy. The criticism he gets is completely undeserved. His importance to the side cannot be overlooked but because he has been one of many to under-perform this season he seems to be the one who is getting singled out.

Fergie has to keep faith in Carrick if United are going to maintain their title bid. His range of passing gets United ticking and he is often the one who starts the famous counter attacks we so often associate with the Red Devils. His ability to keep the ball is also imperative to their away form, we all know how they’ve struggled on the road this season.

So what to do with Michael Carrick? He has to stay and it’s time the fans got behind him. Don’t be surprised if when fit, the midfielder becomes one of United’s most important players come the end of the season.