From West Ham to Tottenham and then onto Manchester, Michael Carrick has graced the Premier League since 1999, oozing class, calmness and assurance in midfield.
With his current deal set to expire this summer and no news as yet on whether he will be offered a new contract, Saturday’s FA Cup Final could be his last game in a Manchester United shirt.
Carrick hasn’t had his best season this campaign, but let’s face it the number of those at United who can go into their summer break with their heads held high, you could probably only count on one hand.
He is 34-years-old, and the usual rhetoric is being thrown about that he is “too old” or “cannot keep up with the speed of the game.” All from those who are desperate to see United pay over the odds for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, ironically another 34-year-old.
His game is not about being able to get around the pitch, his mantra is to provide the more exuberant of players with the ball, whilst shielding Daley Blind and Chris Smalling in defence. Of course, Morgan Schneiderlin was brought in to take over that mantle from Carrick, but has struggled with injuries and for consistency.
Carrick’s job would be made easier if United can find the players to complement him, a player who can get box-to-box in midfield alongside him, whilst the United number 16 controls possession. If he has the quality in front of him, he no doubt has the ability to find them.
This is not a call to build the United team around him. The club have been calling out for a dynamic central midfielder since Paul Scholes left the club.
He offers experience to a side which is littered with young talent. A side which would benefit from having Carrick around the training ground and alongside them on a match day.
It is understood that he wishes to remain at the club and has gone on record in recent months initiating his interest to negotiate a new deal. Credit to a player who will be well aware that he could in fact go and play abroad in the United States or China for double his current wage, but wants to continue giving his all for the club.
Dependent on manager
With the United board looking indecisive over Carrick’s future it seems he will have to wait to find out his fate until United make up their minds over their manager, which could all unravel quickly dependent on the result in the cup final against Crystal Palace.
If United win that then it is partly expected that Louis van Gaal will keep his job, it is also then more likely that Carrick, who is liked by van Gaal, could be offered a contract extension.
But if United sink to a new low and Alan Pardew’s men beat the Reds at Wembley then van Gaal could be axed and Carrick will have to wait to find out who will take up the Old Trafford hot seat, as they decide what to do with the midfielder.
A wonderful servant for United
Despite whether he goes or stays United fans will all agree that the England international, who was left out of Roy Hodgson’s squad for the European Championships, has been a wonderful servant for the club since joining in 2006.
Alongside Scholes in the centre of the pitch, Carrick played a huge role for the club in their most successful stint in recent years under Sir Alex Ferguson. In his time at Old Trafford, he has won 13 honours including five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FIFA Club World Cup, one League Cup and five Community Shields.
He also won the United Players' Player of the Year award in the 2012/13 season as his teammates recognised the quality that he brings to the side.
The Englishman has received plaudits from some of footballs biggest names with his former boss Ferguson calling him “the best central midfielder in English football” in 2014.
He has also caught the eye of those in foreign leagues with former Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez terming him a “complete player” prior to United’s Champions League Final with the Catalan club in 2009.
If the United vice-captain does bid goodbye to the United fans this weekend, then he is sure to get a send-offd off by those who have watched him control matches for Manchester United for many a year.
For those who wish him to depart, then it is clear that a hole will be left in the side which will be difficult to replace.