By Adam Joseph
It’s always depressing to see something on it’s last legs. Your first car. The family pet. Or one of your favourite footballers. Unfortunately this is the case at Manchester United, where club great Michael Carrick deteriorates before our very eyes.
Carrick is not to blame for United’s troubling issues, but he is not a victim of them either. Although a key player before injuries struck him down last season, the game is literally passing him by.
Fixture after fixture it is more noticeable, and the mistakes (particularly in key defensive areas) are growing more and more common. Although the possessor of a fine footballing IQ, father time eventually catches everyone. Carrick is no different.
For years the Englishman has gone underrated by the wider footballing public, and even within the realms of Old Trafford. Inheriting the number 16 shirt from Roy Keane, people always wanted him to be a different type of midfielder to what he was.
It wasn’t until the last title campaign of 2012/13 when alongside a peaking Robin Van Persie they carried United to Sir Alex Ferguson’s last Premier League Championship. Carrick dictated traffic from the middle of the park in a way that very few others could outside of Paul Scholes.
But since those glory days the midfielder’s body has betrayed him. Although he recaptured good form in Louis Van Gaal’s first campaign at the club, the injuries suffered within that season seem to have finally slowed him to a point he cannot overcome.
Turning 35 in July, this is not exactly a surprise. Carrick’s logged a lot of minutes throughout his career of patrolling midfields, and had his share of niggles and injuries. His contract expires in the summer and despite a lack of leadership at the club, it has to be wondered what future he has at Old Trafford.
But the drop off this season has been significant and impossible to ignore, particularly since Christmas. Part of his struggles can be attributed to that of the whole team failing to thrive under their current manager.
This does not rule out a future for Carrick at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho, the man almost certain to replace the Dutchman sooner rather than later. A reduced role is possible, but there will be no room for passengers beyond this summer and the Englishman may see the writing on the wall.
Carrick is a Geordie, and a move to Newcastle is not out of the realms of possibility. Relegation seems likely for them though, and this may cloud things. He’s been linked with Arsenal, but that seems even more unlikely with the club looking to spend big to continue their title push unless he’s willing to accept a reduced role there like Mikel Arteta currently fills.
The deep lying midfielder has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, and with the money on offer this cannot be ruled out. Whether he would be willing to uproot his life on the brink of retirement remains to be seen. A move to Major League Soccer makes more sense, but the pay cheque will be significantly less and we know money matters.
Who knows what the future holds for Michael Carrick. Likely though, is that it may no longer be in Manchester.
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.
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