Tag Archives: Manchester United

An image of Michael Carrick.

How important is Michael Carrick to Manchester United?

When Michael Carrick limped off last Sunday, it seemed, momentarily at least, as if Manchester City might have a way back into the game.

His absence forced Wayne Rooney into midfield and allowed the visitors to score a late consolation. Fortunately for Manchester United supporters, their team had already built a comfortable lead and taken the fight out of their opponents.

But why did an assured and confident United display suddenly look a little shaky once Carrick came off?

Since his return from injury, the midfielder has played in each of United’s last five Premier League games and Louis van Gaal’s side have won them all.

Is he actually so integral to United’s recent surge? Will they miss his presence in this weekend’s crucial clash against Chelsea?

We took a look at his statistics from those last five games in order to find out.


An image comparing the types of passes by Cesc Fabregas and Michael Carrick.

When people talk about Carrick, they often start by praising his passing and how he keeps a team ‘ticking over’ with simple build-up play. As one columnist put it this week, it’s often as if he is “playing in a dinner jacket”.

It cannot be denied that Carrick completes a lot of passes. He’s found a red shirt 89 per cent of the time since returning from injury and regularly finds himself at the top of the pass completion charts come the final whistle.

68.6 per cent of his passes over the last five games have been sent forward. That is marginally more than Cesc Fàbregas, a player many rate as one of this season’s best performers and who Carrick could have come up against this weekend.


An image showing the number of tackles won by Carrick.

This is where the statistics don’t shine a kind light on Carrick. He has won only one of his five attempted tackles and, despite making a decent 11 interceptions, he should be looking to improve the defensive side of his game.

Although he received plenty of plaudits after the derby win, he was clearly at fault for David Silva’s opening goal as he failed to track the Spaniard’s run.


An image showing Michael Carrick's shooting success.

He has never been known as a prolific, reliable or even occasional scorer of goals, with a total of 17 during his nine years at Old Trafford, but Carrick’s shooting record over the last five matches is surprisingly good. He has made three attempts on goal, all of which have been on target, and scored one against his old club Tottenham.

2014/15 record

An image showing Manchester United's 2014/15 record.

Overall, Carrick has been present in 13 of United’s 19 league victories this season, 3 of their 8 draws and 2 of their 5 defeats. Although his contributions can be exaggerated and his flaws are sometimes glossed over, he has proven that he fits into Van Gaal’s system, offering a steady and controlled presence on which devastating attacks can be built.

With no direct replacement in the squad, it seems like his teammates will miss him at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Featured photo: Gordon Flood (Flickr)


Chelsea to make shock move for Fabregas


Spanish newspaper Marca are reporting that Chelsea are set to make a shock move for Cesc Fabregas, bringing him back to England’s capital.

After a difficult period at Barcelona, Fabregas is keen to return to the Premier League, where he made his name with Arsenal. Mourinho has been alerted to the Spanish international’s availability by his representative Darren Dein.

Chelsea will have to fight off staunch competition from Manchester United, however, who are willing to offer Fabregas a significant pay increase. Manchester United need to rebuild their squad under new manager Louis Van Gaal after a disastrous season saw them finish seventh. Fabregas currently earns €5 million a season at Barcelona, with Man Utd willing to pay upwards of €6 million to convince him to join. They are also preparing an offer of €40 million.

Chelsea, worried about Financial Fair Play, will not be able to offer the same salary, but can offer Fabregas Champions League football. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal may be interested in bringing him back to the Emirates Stadium, a move he would surely prefer to either. Arsenal can also sign Fabregas for only €36 million, due to a buy back clause.

Manchester City have also supposedly met with Dein.

Does a lack of European football bode well for Manchester United or not?


Although it could have great effects on the club’s bottom line, many believe Manchester United’s lack of European football next year could bode well for Champions League qualification next season.

The three biggest teams who return to the grand stage of the Champions League, Roma, AS Monaco, and Liverpool, all do so having avoided European competition last season. Despite being well-respected outside of England, the Europa League often has a damaging effect on the course of a season, draining a squad and threatening to destroy momentum in the event of a loss.

Could these examples be used to infer where Manchester United’s next season will end? Not entirely.

Whilst the benefit of avoiding the Europa league is clear, the issue with missing it is often discounted. Van Gaal will find players less willing to sign for Man Utd, especially given the complete lack of European football altogether. Who can forget Liverpool’s struggles last summer to compete with the likes of Dortmund over players such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan?

Players will use the apparent £150m budget at Man Utd to either drive up their own demands, meaning the club will pay over the odds, or they will use it as a bargaining chip when negotiating with sides they may prefer to join. It would be unsurprising to see the best in the world linked to Old Trafford this summer, only to join a side competing with Europe’s elite next season.

The handling of this window is probably the most important in Man Utd’s history – should mistakes be made, it might take years for them to recover.

Also of note is the apparent desire from the commercial wing of the club to have the team involved in high-profile international friendlies. This could quite easily damage a team in the same way that the Europa League does.

The question, therefore, is not an easy one to answer. It remains to be seen whether the lack of fixtures will be to Man Utd’s benefit.