Michael Carrick must be kept in the Manchester United starting line-up. That’s the view of former United star, Ray Wilkins.
By the time he moved to Old Trafford, Wilkins was no longer ‘Butch’ but plain old Ray. He was one of the most prominent English midfielders of his generation and a master of the defensive role Carrick fills now.
Wilkins was impressed by the way Carrick neutralised the threat of Mesut Özil, forcing the German to the periphery of the game.
His presence in front of the back four allowed Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba to battle the Arsenal midfield and give United impetus.
“I think the inclusion of Michael Carrick has to be a permanent for Jose Mourinho. Wilkins was quoted as saying.
“He allows [Ander] Herrera – who is finally becoming a Manchester United player – and [Paul] Pogba to go and do their work in advance.
“Carrick just gives them a bit of solidity in the midfield when they need to control a game.”
Like Wilkins, Carrick is the master of the short pass but unlike the Arsenal midfield, those passes are generally forward thinking, looking to set an attack in motion. Wilkins in his day was known as ‘The Crab’ due to his propensity to pass sideways.
Wilkins also felt that Mourinho made a mistake in leaving Wayne Rooney on the bench. In the former England midfielder’s eyes, Rooney was a player whose reputation demanded inclusion in the line-up to face Arsenal.
According to Wilkins, it was a mistake to include Anthony Martial who was largely ineffective for the ninety minutes. It would have meant moving Marcus Rashford to the wing but that was a move Wilkins felt had to be made.
Mourinho told the media Rooney had been left out because the England captain lacks the pace he requires of his strikers. It wasn’t, the United boss claimed, as a result of Rooney’s drunken antics earlier in the week.
It’s not hard to think however, that quite a few less beers might leave Rooney somewhat nimbler on his feet.