As the international break continues to drag on and on, like a seemingly endless bus trip, there is, at last, something to be cheerful about, as United are expected to announce that Michael Carrick has signed a new contract by the end of the week.
Talks between the Geordie midfielder and the club had continued over the last couple of weeks and both parties seem to be satisfied with the terms of the new deal, which will keep Carrick at Old Trafford for another two and half seasons at least, with the option to extend the contract for a further 12 months.
Carrick, who is expected to miss the next six weeks with an Achilles injury and is not expected to see his salary rise from his current £3.5million-a-year deal, has been an instrumental figure for United in recent years, after enduring a somewhat lukewarm reception when he first arrived at the club in the summer of 2006.
Mistaken by many as a like-for-like replacement for Roy Keane and by others as younger Frank Lampard, Carrick has never developed into a player capable to emulate Keano’s tough tackling, nor the Chelsea midfielder’s goalscoring return, which earned him lots of critics from the press and, rather more worryingly, some United fans, who failed to grasp how crucial a figure in the United squad, the 32-year-old is.
Five league titles and a European Cup later, Carrick has finally got the recognition he deserves and one can’t help but wonder what United could have achieved – particularly over the last 24 months – had the Geordie been partnered by one or two central midfielders of the calibre required to compete toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite.
There’s still time to see Carrick playing alongside a world class midfielder – a luxury Carrick only experienced alongside Paul Scholes – as his new deal confirms the 32-year-old’s intention of concluding his career at Old Trafford, as he had hinted to in an interview last month: “I’d love to carry on playing as long as possible at this club,” said Carrick.
“It’s a fantastic club and I’ve had great times here. I feel good at the moment. I’ve just turned 32, so I’ve got a bit of time yet.”
By the time Carrick’s contract will run out, United’s mercurial midfielder will be approaching his 35th birthday and it’ll be fascinating – or terrifying, delete as appropriate – to see whether the club will require his services for an additional season or whether Carrick will be phased out as it was the case with Paul Scholes.
Will Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley develop into the midfield partnership United desperately need? Will the club finally invest in some world class midfielders?
Only an incredibly optimist red would answer “yes” to both of those questions, therefore we must enjoy Michael Carrick until we can.
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