With five Premier League medals and a Champions League medal, Michael Carrick is one of the most decorated players currently plying their trade in England. He has now been central to Manchester United’s successes for the best part of a decade and even at the age of 33 he is influential at Old Trafford.
But is he really valued as much as some of his contemporaries?
Carrick has only been capped for England 31 times, a paltry total in comparison to Gerrard and Lampard, his direct competition, both having amassed over 100 caps. So why has Carrick never been valued at international level?
His style of play is not one that endears himself to the watching public automatically. He can appear languid, contemplative; he is almost the polar opposite to the blood and thunder Gerrard. He has always conserved his energy, used it in the right areas, but the general football fan always appreciates a 90-yard run and tackle, rather than 20, well placed passes, retaining possession.
He has also never been a prolific scorer, he is still yet to score 20 goals for United, arguably it is the one drawback to his game. But it is not and never has been something his game has been built around, he is much more focused on possession retention and creating goals than scoring them. Again his lack of goals will mean a lot of fans do not really understand what the man from the North East offers a team. He in fact, offers a lot.
A look at this season highlights just how important he is to his team. In the 13 games he has played this season, United have picked up thirty points, a ratio that extended over a season would see his team canter to the title. Even in a struggling United team.
Louis Van Gaal is still yet to find the perfect formula at Old Trafford, but wrapping Carrick in cotton wool should be central to any of his plans.
Although it is a cliché, Michael Carrick’s nationality has meant he has not been valued in a way that he should have been.
He is one of the greatest English midfielders of his generation, a consistent stand out performer. He may always find himself behind others in the pantheons of great domestic central midfielders but in the eyes of some he is right up alongside the best in the world.
Van Gaal is one of the great managers in world football; Alex Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager of all time. Both have built their sides around Michael Carrick, even with his patchy scoring record. Even with his relaxed style of play.
He is a midfielder with a continental style of play; he should be respected and treated as a true great of the English game.
His record when he does retire will show that. However, his current form is highlighting he could be a long way away from moving out of the spotlight.