Date: 2nd February 2009 at 11:14am
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I watched United beat Everton 1-0, opening up a five-point gap at the top of the table. When I got home I was greeted by a great surprise: papers rushed to acknowledge the masterful display of Michael Carrick, singling him out as the man who will be pivotal in our title charge.

But it’s oh so typical of the English media that it took so long for them to realise what an asset Carrick is. One paper wrote that eyebrows were raised when we paid that hefty sum for him because ‘he had failed to establish himself in the England team’.

What does this mean? Carrick did not get the recognition he deserved and what Gareth Barry, for example, got because of the professional judgment of two people, Sven-Göran Eriksson and Steve McClaren. Well, if they set the standard then I’m not surprised that nobody noticed the quiet excellence of Carrick.

The truth is that while it took him a while to settle he gradually became more and more consistent in his first season. By January 2007 he became an absolutely vital part of this team and though it took him a while again to start firing during the next campaign, he ended up as United’s best midfield player of the season (please, don’t tell me Ronaldo is a midfielder). This season he’s consistent, reliable and even chipped in with a couple of goals.

The guy has wonderful passing, awareness and has a knack for timing his interceptions perfectly – on Saturday I lost count the number of times he nicked the ball of an Everton player. So, yes, the papers are right: Michael Carrick developed into a fantastic player – but that development was clear from his very first minutes in a United shirt.