The last 12 months have not been the best for Michael Carrick and he will be the first to admit it. After three seasons at Old Trafford in which each produced a Premier League winning medal, United not only drew a blank in the last campaign but an alarming dip in form resulted in him being consistently left on the bench by Sir Alex Ferguson giving him a frustrating season he would rather forget. Carrick didn’t feature against Wolves at the weekend but if veteran Paul Scholes had his way, the midfielder will be in the starting line up on Wednesday night in the Manchester derby at Eastlands.
The 29 year old has featured in eight of the ten local meetings since he signed for United in summer 2006 and twice scored in the fixture. Although his performances during the early part of this season were hampered by an achilles injury, a recent extended run in which Carrick played in all six matches leading up to last Saturday’s win over Wolves, has helped him rediscover the sort of form which was clearly evident in the past.
“An in form Michael Carrick can bring a lot of things to this team” Scholes says “we all know what a top quality player he is. He can run all day, he can pass, he defends, he’s capable of scoring and creating goals… he’s a big presence in the centre of midfield for us.”
Carrick admitted last week that he “wasn’t hitting my best form” during August and September but Scholes says he never felt his team mate had lost confidence in his ability. “Michael had a few problems but he’s been out on the training ground every day trying to do his best and just waiting for his chance which he’s been given in these last few weeks. We all want a run of games but you have to be playing well enough to get a run of games” he said “Michael’s definitely doing that now and he’s a big part of the team. He’s done great over the last few weeks and hopefully that will continue.”
Scholes is a veteran of 21 clashes against City and knows all too well how much Manchester derbies mean to both sets of supporters. “The derbys are always important for both players and fans” he says “every derby game I’ve played in has always been a massive game with a great atmosphere. Perhaps City fans expect a bit more these days than they have in the past and rightly so when you consider the money they’ve spent and the players they’ve bought.”
“I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders” he admits. “For one reason or another it hasn’t quite happened up until now. We’ve been slow starters for the last few years and normally come into it around this time. Hopefully we can start getting a bit of that form going now.
Does anyone have a good crystal ball who can predict the result?