After the slow start made by the team, Red Devil’s have caught up with their rivals to sit third in the league. It is no co-incidence that the return of Michael Carrick from injury has helped the team win five games in a row.
When Van Gaal addressed the media for the first time after becoming United manager last July, he said: ‘Michael Carrick has had surgery on a left ankle ligament injury this morning. He will be out for 10-12 weeks’.
It was not the ideal start Carrick would have expected under his new manager. He had to wait till November to finally make an appearance for the Red Devils. When he came on as a substitute against Manchester City, United were sitting eight in the table after winning only three of their first nine games.
He was unable to change the teams fortune against City, as Smalling did the necessary damage in the first half by collecting a red card with two silly yellow cards. In the next game against Crystal Palace, Carrick started for the first time under Van Gaal.
He helped the team retain the possession in a work man like victory. Then came the Arsenal test for the Reds. Having won no away games till then in the league, Manchester united were battled to the ground by an impressive Arsenal in the opening half hour.
However, Carrick played a huge part in helping his team regaining the possession in the middle of the park to relieve some pressure. As Carrick saw more of the ball, United started to gain the upper hand in the match. In the end, he played a crucial role in helping his team register their first away victory of the season.
Then, United enjoyed two home victories against mid-table teams (Hull City and Stoke). Especially, in the match against Hull City, Carrick was the unsung hero for the Red Devils. He completed more passes then any player in the league on that weekend with 108. He was followed by Cesc Fabregas with 98 and Nemanja Matic with 95.
Also his pass accuracy in the match was an impressive 92.31%. It was not just about retaining the possession but, he was also purposeful with his passing. Carrick made 36 forward passes and completed 23 successful final third passes. The attackers may have stole the headlines on the night but, Carrick’s contribution might not have been forgotten by his manager.
On Monday night, he once again had a key role to play against Southampton. As United struggled with playing the ball from the back, Carrick was moved to the centre of the three man defence. He did his job duly, as United started to gain better foothold in the match during the second half to come away as 2-1 winners.
Carrick, who was always been overseen by the national team (England) has never praised for his contribution by the fans or experts. Despite of it, he never let the criticism get the better off him and has always been an unsung hero for the club since his move to Old Trafford from Spurs in 2006. With performances of this calibre, fans will hope the England International stays with the club for a long time.
Image courtesy – dailymail
Stats courtesy of hereisthecity.com