Gary Neville has offered words of praise for his former Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick and compared him to midfield greats Andrea Pirlo and Paul Scholes.
Carrick has started just 16 Premier League games this campaign and his commanding presence in the midfield coincided with a revival in fortunes for Louis van Gaal’s side. His absence was severely felt in the last two games, as United suffered successive defeats against Chelsea and Everton.
Neville feels that Carrick is an unsung hero for both club and country and describes his style of play as that of a calm musician.
“I describe him as a piano,” he said. “You can go into a bar and listen to rock music, but Carrick is more like a piano player. He’s peaceful. He’s calm, he brings composure to everyone else around him.
“That’s important for young players. We want cultured players. We want players who can see the game, who are intelligent, who understand the game, where to be, when to be [there] and be a coach out on the pitch. That’s what he is.”
Neville believes that Carrick has the qualities of a Scholes, Pirlo and of a Busquets. While the Barcelona midfielder puts in a more defensive shift, Pirlo and Scholes were “more of a rhythm player” – Carrick is a mixture of both and his qualities are rarely found in other British midfielders of his generation.
“He’s critical for Louis van Gaal and he’s a very important player for England in the next 12 months leading up to a European Championship. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have retired, and now Michael Carrick has an opportunity.”
At 33, he does not have the legs to be more adventurous he once used to be, but he brings stability and balance to the side with his impeccable positional awareness, tactical discipline and measured passing. It is no coincidence that United have won 72 percent of the games Carrick has started this season, but the statistics drops dramatically down to 37.5 percent when he is absent.