Just when United’s season seemed to have picked up speed, courtesy of three consecutive league wins and a nine-game unbeaten record, the Reds have been dealt a serious blow by the news that Michael Carrick could miss up to six weeks, with a persistent achilles injury likely to be the source of his problems.
Carrick and Danny Welbeck withdrew from the England squad due to face Chile and Germany at Wembley, but while the latter’s absence was somewhat expected given he’s been nursing a knee injury for the last three weeks, Carrick’s setback was a surprising one and one that could keep the mercurial midfielder sidelined until after Christmas.
The United midfielder, who is set to be offered a two-year deal by David Moyes to extend his current contract, was given an injection to reduce the inflammation and Moyes has granted him leave in the hope a break could speed up the healing process but, as things stand, Carrick’s hopes of featuring against Cardiff of November 24 are almost non-existent and the worst case scenario has him sidelined for about six weeks.
A lengthy absence for Carrick could have devastating consequences for United, whose shortage of options in the middle of the park has reached embarrassing limits this season. Other than Carrick, who enjoyed a relative slow start to the season by his standards, Phil Jones has arguably been United’s star performer in the engine room as Moyes has opted to deploy the former Blackburn man as a midfield enforcer, rather than at centre-back, while Ryan Giggs produced an outstanding performance when United beat Real Sociedad, but it’d be foolish to expect a weekly contribution from a man just short of his 40th birthday.
With Anderson having mercifully fallen off David Moyes’ radar after a couple of abysmal performances earlier this season, that leaves just Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini at the United manager’s disposal.
The former is yet to demonstrate that he can be the answer to United’s midfield malaise as too often Cleverley seems to go missing at crucial moments and, perhaps more importantly, he does not possess Carrick’s composure and sense of positioning. Fellaini, on the other hand, has done virtually nothing to justify the £27m price-tag that accompanied him from Goodison Park to Old Trafford on deadline day, showing all the limits many Reds were dreading.
The Belgian might well develop into an excellent buy for United, but has suffered when deployed as second member of pair of central midfielders, for as well as not possessing the same passing range that Carrick has in his armour, he’s also even less dynamic than the Geordie and could, in theory, reap benefits if he was to be deployed alongside Cleverley and Jones in a three-man midfield.
United’s inept and farcical conduct throughout the transfer window was always likely to catch up with them and the way Moyes’ men will respond to the absence of one of the crucial element of the squad, will go a long way to determine the outcome of their season.
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