Sir Alex Ferguson has been reflecting on Michael Carrick‘s career at Manchester United, noting that the 35-year-old always possessed the right mentality to succeed at the highest level.
The Englishman, who signed a one year deal at the club over the summer, begun the 2016/17 season on the periphery of proceedings but has quickly established himself as a fundamental aspect of Jose Mourinho’s line-up.
Carrick’s composure and poise at the base of midfield alongside the likes of Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba has prompted the Portuguese into tabling another one year deal ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, but it remains unclear as to whether the midfielder will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season.
And Ferguson, when asked about the Englishman’s predicament at Man United, was quick to heap praise on his overall approach to life at the top.
“From the minute we bought him, his character has always been absolutely outstanding,” he said. “He’s a football man and that character, plus his ability, made him a certainty to be a big success here.
“When we were discussing him and were ready to make a bid, we were looking at his background and one of the things that stuck out to me was as a young boy, he went down to play for West Ham.
“A 16-year-old kid going way down from Newcastle to east London – that’s a trek, and it epitomised to me the confidence the boy had in himself. That impressed me.
“Geordies do travel. You think of Shearer at Southampton as a kid, Bryan Robson as a kid at West Brom; Sir Bobby Charlton came here when he was 15 years of age.
“They have got a big thing about them, Geordies, in terms of travelling as they want to be players. It’s a great football area. The Wallsend Boys’ Club he came from has produced so many fantastic footballers.”
“I must say negotiations were very difficult and went on for ages. I always remember I thought it was done and [former chief executive] David Gill phoned me on the golf course to say they want more. Typical [Spurs chairman] Daniel Levy!
“It was very hard to negotiate but, at the end of the day, we got it through and, ever since he joined us, he’s had a fantastic career.”
Carrick espouses an attitude that has largely disappeared within the United squad over the past few years: a kind of raw, unquestioned dedication to the cause, almost like a heuristic understanding of what wearing the badge really means.
You can see this overall approach reflected in his very own style: subtle, masterful and completely reliable. Mourinho has clearly placed emphasis on locating a replacement for the 35-year-old – who can’t have more than a season left in his legs – over the summer, but nobody could ever fully replicate the aura brought by Carrick.