The “new” look approach to Uniteds’ Midfield

Sir Alex Ferguson seems to like pinning his colours to the corner of the unappreciated. The Manchester United manager’s contrary streak has come to the fore on the club’s pre-season tour. Not for the first time, he has defended the Glazers, despite the evidence United would have rather more spending power but for the debts they lumped on the club. Less controversially and more instructively, he has also described Michael Carrick as “the key player” in his midfield.

The fanfare can be rare where Carrick is concerned. Go back 18 months and Ferguson’s decision to award him a new contract bemused many. After a season where his standards had slipped, his admirers at Old Trafford were a diminishing band. Even last year, after a campaign where he rivalled Antonio Valencia for the title of United’s outstanding player, Carrick remained an acquired taste. He is too unflashy, too unassuming, too sedate for many people’s taste. He rarely catches the eye or makes the headlines.

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