Many have been singing the praises of Marouane Fellaini for his performance against Tottenham, and rightly so – he was a huge thorn in the side of Spurs all afternoon, scoring the crucial first goal and generally making a massive contribution.
But his performance was possibly deemed so good becuase what has come before this was SO BAD. The turnaround has been remarkable because few fans gave him a chance of staying at the club beyond this summer until recently. And he needs to be putting in performances like this on a weekly basis if he wants to ultimately justify the huge fee.
But Manchester United’s true match winner on Sunday was Michael Carrick. Fellaini, Rooney, Blind, Mata and Smalling were all excellent but Carrick made it all possible.
Without him (he’s been out for several weeks) Manchester United have been rudderless. The Englishman set up the first goal, scored the second and generally brought the class and assurance that the engine room has lacked in his absence.
It’s no coincidence that Manchester United have improved massively on his return. The same thing happened at the turn of the year when a decidedly shaky United were saved by Carrick and went on to record 8 wins on the bounce.
Football fans who don’t support Manchester United often can’t understand why Reds fans love this guy so much – in reality he’s the best kept secret in British football because he quietly makes United tick. He’s a box to box natural athlete. He never wastes the ball. He rarely loses his man, tracks back and is the best passer in the team. His composure is also key and this ripples outwards to all of his team mates. Carrick’s value to Manchester United cannot be overstated.
Questions have been asked for years about how Manchester United will ever replace Scholes and Keane. But a similar question must surely be asked about the superb Michael Carrick. At 33 he is at the top of his game but can’t be relied on for the long-term.
Manchester United fans: who was your man of the match on Sunday?