Manchester United’s sloppy start to the current season finally came back to bite them this weekend as they were downed by Norwich City at Carrow Road.
United have been an interesting side this season showing a propensity to go 1-0 down in many of their fixtures which has seen them involved in dogfights in order to take home three points. In East Anglia they could not do so as the once maligned Michael Turner and Sebastian Bassong continued to mature as a centre-back partnership with a solid enough performance against United’s feared frontmen.
However the major concern was in the centre of United’s midfield. They struggled to retain possession in that area of the field and despite the fleeting moment of a decent ball over the top they rarely looked a threat. While Ryan Giggs came in for the majority of the criticism there perhaps is a wider issue afoot.
Giggs turns 39 later this month and with that increased age has come a decrease in his natural pace that once terrified defenders across the continent. This saw Sir Alex bring him into a central midfield position as his career reached end-game and he performed well in that position at first; although warning signs would have been flagged when he was so unceremoniously bossed in the Champions League Final against Barcelona at Wembley.
Yet Carrick does not seem any more mobile than a man, who despite recent criticism remains a United legend, approaching his 40th year. The statistics are as worrying. When these two players feature for Manchester United one thing invariably happens; United’s performance drops.
Since the start of last season Manchester United have only won 59 per cent of games in which the two have both started.
When neither of them took to the field that percentage jumps up to 82 per cent.
Is it simply a question of mobility? Neither covers the ground with much tenacity unlike other options such as Darren Fletcher or Anderson. The latter should feel the most aggrieved at the recent selection. The Brazilian has done well to return to full fitness and looks impressive every time he plays and while obviously not yet garnering the experience of Giggs and Carrick it must be said that United seem to play better with the former Porto man in the side.
One thing that is surely becoming clear is that for whatever reason Giggs and Carrick is not a viable central midfield option for Manchester United. The two complement each other about as well as ketchup on croissants and many a United fan will hope they don’t have to see those two side-by-side for United in the near future.
Do you think Giggs and Carrick should continue to play together in centre midfield?
image: © Paolo Camera