Manchester United impressed on Thursday night with a comfortable win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League, helping them to move top of their group. But one of the main talking points from the game was how Jose Mourinho’s experimental midfield worked so well.
Michael Carrick came in to sit alongside Paul Pogba, with Juan Mata ahead of them.
Carrick, albeit against Fenerbahce, was majestic in midfield on Thursday night. Jose Mourinho has struggled to find the right midfield partner for Pogba and not only did Carrick play well alongside him, but he appeared to give freedom to Pogba and allow him to play his best football. When you look at it, Pogba’s best football at Juventus came alongside Andrea Pirlo. A deep-lying playmaker to act as the foil for him – Carrick is certainly the closest thing United have to that currently. The problem is he is 35, and unlikely to be able to play week in week out.
Carrick was quality last night, completing 97% of his passes, attempting and completing 4 long balls and 1 through ball. Despite his age, Carrick made a strong defensive contribution too, making 5 interceptions, 1 clearance and 1 tackle. Bare in mind this was against a team (Fenerbahce) that didn’t attack too much. Carrick was the hub of United, controlling the game and making more passes than any player on the pitch (72).
Here’s a snippet of what the fans are saying on Twitter about Carrick.
4-1 f-t. Great touch from #mufc fans to salute RVP goal. Carrick-Pogba axis has potential. Fenerbahce lacked the defiance of their fans.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 20, 2016
Carrick showing why he should start as CDM every week subject to fitness. Absolutely class, real maestro. Still pulling strings at 35.
— Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786) October 20, 2016
Michael Carrick still top class. Distribution as good as ever and never looks hurried. Absolutely brilliant.
— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) October 20, 2016
Carrick, Pogba and Mata excellent. Rooney determined and lively. Vibrant performance and well timed ahead of Chelsea. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) October 20, 2016
More proof that Carrick needs to play more.
— StrettyNews.com (@StrettyNews) October 20, 2016
I’d agree that Carrick needs to play more. Morgan Schneiderlin just doesn’t look quite right at United and Fellaini has ability and is necessary in some games, but overall I don’t think he is the right foil for Pogba, nor does he allow United to play the way they want to play.
When you spend £90million on a player you need to build around him. The club cannot afford to have a half functioning Pogba, which is what has been the case so far this season. For the money they paid, Mourinho needs to find a way to make him the heartbeat of the team.
Personally I’d like to see a 4-3-3 with Carrick holding and then Pogba and Herrera/Mata slightly ahead. If Mata isn’t in the middle he can play in one of the wide roles. With Carrick behind and in a 4-3-3 I think you will really see the very best of Pogba.
Carrick is a really good player and despite being 35 (and a former Spurs player), when he was linked to Arsenal this summer I was quite happy to welcome him. Yesterday showed he’s still a good player.