Manchester United are in purgatory.
Following the disastrous 4-1 loss at Watford, Ole Gunnar Solskjær is out of his job and United’s next regime is preparing to begin.
And it is now up to Michael Carrick to stabilize the ship, having been given the reins on a temporary basis. United’s big has served under both Solskjær and Jose Mourinho since his retirement, but this will be an initial turnaround in dugout. And at a time when United are yearning for stability.
United will continue their search for a more medium-term temporary replacement for Solskjær, but until then, Carrick will be the man at the helm. And even though he has no previous experience of leading a top club like United, it seems as much upward for him to lead a disillusioned group of players as there is a risk that things will go from bad to worse.
I have to point out that I do not vouch for Carrick becoming the permanent manager, but he can add some much-needed positivity to a team that seems to be completely deprived of confidence.
The new manager bounce is a very real thing, and although Carrick is not as experienced as the competitors to succeed Solskjær, he wants to know exactly how a number of these players are ticking after being part of the coaching staff for over three seasons. The body language of the United players at Watford suggested that almost any change would elicit a positive response, and Carrick’s reputation at United will not be lost on a number of players, not least one like Cristiano Ronaldo, a teammate of his new boss in it. Champions League winning team in 2008.
Winning a Champions League only gave Solskjær so much credit in the bank, and the idea of having ‘been there and done it’ as a player will not give Carrick a hall pass in this role. But he is a person who will clearly command respect from a group of players who need discipline instilled in them.
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Having a recent United midfield star in a more elevated role can work doubly here. Especially since Carrick used to be the cultured, hard-working and technically gifted midfielder who made Ronaldo thrive when United won the UEFA Champions League in 2008. Younger United players will have fond memories of the impact he had on that side .
And there are parallels to the way Solskjær was able to get the best out of strikers like Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and even Anthony Martial in the 2019/20 season. Having top-level experience as a player in that position will only benefit those who work in the same role. And given the current chaos that exists within United’s midfield setup, Carrick would be wise to focus on a department he knows all too well.
Like Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane, two of the best midfielders of their particular generation, so was Carrick. Guardiola has even previously talked about his admiration for Carrick when he played.
“I’m a big fan of Michael [Carrick]”said the former Barcelona boss at the time.
“He’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life.
“He’s on par with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets.”
He may not be able to change the staff to be completely in his image, but we can at least expect Carrick to reduce the current archaic midfield structure of two box-to-box midfielders behind a four-man attack and will certainly try to place more emphasis on built-up play from deeper positions.
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Carrick was an underrated player in his career, but with the benefit of hindsight, he now ranks as one of the best deep-seated playmakers of his generation.
A number of managers will try to emulate the way they were successful as players, and if Carrick can bring the midfield finesse that made him an integral part of some of United’s best memories in recent times, then United can get the midfield boost they have so desperate. urge.
That’s probably the key to Carrick’s success in his temporary position – or putting together a compelling argument for being anything more than that.
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