Fighting for Middle Ground ; Reds' Midfield General Michael Carrick in Battle to Prove Himself to Both Roy Hodgson and United's David Moyes

By United Exclusive James Robson Follow James on Twitter @JamesRobsonMEN | Manchester Evening News, October 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Fighting for Middle Ground ; Reds' Midfield General Michael Carrick in Battle to Prove Himself to Both Roy Hodgson and United's David Moyes


United Exclusive James Robson Follow James on Twitter @JamesRobsonMEN, Manchester Evening News


MICHAEL Carrick played his part in securing England's place in Rio - now the midfielder must ensure he goes to the World Cup with them.

"It's got a special ring to it," he said of next year's finals in Brazil. "We went out there last summer and sampled what it would be like.

"Now we've got the opportunity and it's about playing well to get on that plane."

Carrick will have done his chances no harm with a fine performance against Poland on Tuesday night.

Roy Hodgson opted for the 32-year-old's elegance and composure ahead of the goal-scoring threat of Frank Lampard or the energy of Jack Wilshere.

It was a measure of the England manager's faith in the United star to retain possession and contros l the tempo in a match in which it was vital for his players to keep their heads.

Those qualities will be needed next summer if the Three Lions are to avoid the listless displays of recent major tournaments when a fundamental inability to keep hold of the ball has cost them dear.

But if Carrick is to be among Hodgson's 23-man squad, he must retain the levels he has set over the past 18 months at Old Trafford.

sea-So often United's unsung hero, his contribution to last season's Premier League title success was recognised by his teammates as he was named the tion son's suc-recog-cess team-nised mates club's Players' Player of the Year.

He was also included in the Premier League team of the year - voted for by the PFA - ahead of illustrious rivals Steven Gerrard, Wilshere, Lampard and Yaya Toure.

Yet David Moyes still spent the summer trying to add two midfielders to his squad and will renew that search when the January transfer window opens.

The United manager missed out on Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira - landing only Marouane Fellaini.

He is also interested in Pounds 16m Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke (pictured), who has been labeled the new Xavi in his homeland. The 21-yearold would represent an obvious threat to Carrick at club level, which year-old inter-national could have an impact on his international prospects. Right now Carrick remains the heartbeat of a United midfield that has long-been considered a weak link.

Moyes identified the need to strengthen in that department as soon as he took over from Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer - and believed he needed more than just Fellaini to address the issue.

The Belgian international is still finding his feet at his new club, following his Pounds 27.5m deadline day move from Everton. But both he and his manager believe his long-term future is in a defensive midfield role.

Moyes' pursuit of Fabregas and Herrera was acknowledgement of United's need for more creativity through the middle. …

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