Having arrived from Tottenham Hotspur as an already-established Premier League midfielder in 2006, it’s testament to Michael Carrick’s skill, class and longevity that he’s now heading into a weekend testimonial after 11 trophy-laden years at Manchester United.
A key part of the side who lifted the Prem and Champions League double back in 2008, the veteran has now won 11 major honours at Old Trafford.
So here’s our pick of the Wallsend wonder’s best games in a red shirt…
Man United 7-1 Roma (10 April 2007, UCL)
The midfield maestro delivered arguably the finest performance of his career against the Giallorossi, helping United turn around a 2-1 Quarter-Final first-leg defeat at Stadio Olimpico in unforgettable fashion.
First, the former Spurs ace made it 1-0 on the night with a sensational long-range dink over the head of helpless Roma stopper Doni, before beginning the move which saw Alan Smith make it 2-0.
And after keeping Francesco Totti quiet throughout the game, Carrick burst forward again on the hour-mark to ping home his second and United’s fifth. Sensational.
FC Barcelona 0-0 Man United (23 April 2008, UCL)
We could really have picked either game from the Red Devils’ Semi-Final triumph over Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, with the United ace magnificent in both legs. But keeping the Catalan giants quiet in their own patch means this match just about edges it.
Alongside Paul Scholes, Carrick was magnificent in a deep-lying midfield role at the Nou Camp, giving the likes of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Andres Iniesta barely a sniff of goal. The midfielder also produced the move of the match with a superb solo run, but couldn’t quite match it with a finish.
Wigan Athletic 1-2 Man United (13 May 2009, PL)
If the Roma game was possibly Carrick’s very best display, and the Barca game saw him nullify some of the world’s finest players, this game remains his single most important contribution to the club’s cause.
The scenario: beat the Latics and United would go within a point of lifting an 18th Premier League title. Lose, and Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool would remain right on their heels.
Things weren’t looking good for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men following Hugo Rodellega’s opener. But cometh the hour mark, cometh the man. First, Carrick’s cross-cum-shot was flicked home by Carlos Tevez, and then, in the 86th minute the midfielder blasted home from outside the box to seal victory (and, more-or-less, the title).
Man United 3-1 Manchester City (27 January 2010, LC)
If he hadn’t already, the then-28-year-old secured his status as a fans’ favourite by engineering a crucial win against Manchester City – one of three games in this season where the Red Devils secured victory in injury-time.
After a controversial 2-1 defeat across the city eight days earlier, the pair played out a nervy first half in the second leg, with the scores locked at 0-0 at the break and the Citizens seemingly heading for Wembley.
But the former West Ham United prodigy would deliver joy for the home fans. Firstly, his instinctive pass in a crowded penalty box set up Paul Scholes to level things on aggregate. Then he made it 2-0 on the night with an ice-cool finish past Joe Hart.
City went on to equalise, before Wayne Rooney grabbed a winner. But without Carrick’s good work, the former’s injury-time header would have been all in vain.
Man United 4-3 Newcastle United (26 December 2012, PL)
When Pappis Cisse put the Magpies into the lead for the third time on 67 minutes, it seemed that Man United’s title tilt could be crumbling at Christmas, with the Red Devils having dropped points at the Liberty Stadium in their previous match.
But – ever the man for the big occasion – the man from Tyneside turned the tide against the club he’d grown up supporting, with a pair of outstanding assists, to snatch a dramatic 4-3 triumph for the hosts.
His slide-rule pass to Robin van Persie enabled the Dutchman to restore parity (once again) with 19 minutes remaining, before producing an inch-perfect chip to leave the defence helpless and Javier Hernandez free to tuck home a 90th-minute winner.
Cue wild celebrations and Ladbrokes News’ resident Man United fan injuring his knee in the process.
Man United 3-0 Tottenham (15 March 2015, PL)
He may once have been the toast of White Hart Lane, but the experienced midfielder left Spurs fans sour-faced at Old Trafford, as Carrick masterminded the Lilywhites’ joint-heaviest defeat of the campaign – and boosted the Red Devils’ top four hopes in the process.
With the pair both battling for a UCL spot, the veteran gave his side an early advantage, setting up Marouane Fellaini’s opener within nine minutes, before adding one of his own 10 minutes later – scoring for the firsttime in 13 months.
As for the likes of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen – they saw their attacking intentions thwarted again by Carrick and a rock-solid United defence.
Do you agree with our selections? Or are there any classy Carrick displays which deserve a place among his top Man United displays?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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