Upon Wayne Rooney’s move to Everton, Michael Carrick was named Manchester United’s newest captain.
Carrick’s contributions might not always be obvious on the stat sheet, but they are in the trophy case where he has helped United win five league titles, three League Cups, the Champions League, Europa League, and an FA Cup.
One of United’s unsung heroes of the past decade, look out this season for captain Carrick to put forth many brilliant performances like these ones.
What many consider to be Carrick’s big breakout with the club. After falling behind 2-1 in the first leg of the 2007 UCL quarterfinals, United delivered a 7-1 pummeling to Roma on the return leg in Manchester.
Carrick opened the home side’s scoring in the 11th with a brilliant hooking shot from outside the box. That triggered a United scoring explosion, to which Carras added to at the hour mark with a shot from a similar distance. The goals were the first of his career in the Champions League and remain the only brace of his career in any competition.
In a preview of that year’s League Cup Final, United hosted Spurs in the fourth round of the 2008-09 FA Cup. That fixture featured many more goals than the scoreless final would, and both of United’s were instigated by great play from Carrick in the 2-1 result.
Spurs went ahead early, but in the 35th Carrick was credited with the assist on a Paul Scholes equaliser. About a minute later, Carrick helped set up a go-ahead goal, this time to Dimitar Berbatov. From just past the halfway line, he made a long pass that caught the Bulgarian perfectly in stride near the top of the box that he would put away for the eventual game winner.
Heading into Gameweek 36 of the 2008/09 PL campaign, United needed just four points from their final three matches to win their third consecutive title. After just missing on a scoring attempt near the goalmouth, Carrick drilled a perfect pass to Carlos Tevez inside the box that he put away to erase the Latics’ lead.
United continued to dial up the pressure and as a result, Carrick was able to hit a left-footed blast home in the 86th minute. His 1 goal, 1 assist performance helped put United six points clear of Liverpool on their way to once again lifting the Premier League trophy.
In the first leg of the Chelsea-United showdown in the 2011 UCL quarterfinals, Carrick put forth the kind of performance that showed why he’s been such a valuable asset to United all these years. On defence, Carrick was disruptive, intercepting more passes (7) than anyone else on the pitch.
With the ball, he did everything a deep-lying playmaker should, showing patience while completing 88% of his passes. One of those was a brilliant, 50-yard diagonal loft that found a streaking Ryan Giggs, who cut the ball back to Rooney for the match’s only goal. Carrick’s all-around performance allowed underdogs United (3.75 underdogs at sports bookies like CasinoOnline.co.uk) to take a 1-0 lead back to Old Trafford.
Sure it was just a testimonial match, but it was his testimonial match. And that’s exactly how Michael Carrick played against a hodgepodge of United All-Stars. His performance was fitting of a storybook farewell match, but luckily he’ll be around for the Reds at least one more season.
After giving a rousing pre-game speech, Carrick played admirably with many old teammates from the 2008 squad. After barely missing the goal in the first half, Carrick got his chance for redemption in the 82nd. In what turns out to have been an incredibly symbolic moment, Rooney passed to Carrick in space near the top of the box, who ripped a low shot past the near post to make it 2-2. The torch had been passed from the old captain to the new.