Holding his ground

Michael Carrick is a regular member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side despite facing increased competition from Owen Hargreaves and Anderson, the recent signings, writes Andy Hampson.

Manchester United’s Michael Carrick is a solid, hardworking midfielder who established himself as a regular in the England set-up under former manager Steve McClaren.

Carrick arrived at United in a big-money move in 2006 after having been one of the stars at Tottenham. Soon he became a regular member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side despite an unspectacular start to his United career and remains so, even though he faces increased competition from recent signings, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson.

Carrick, who hails from Wallsend in the north-east of England, played for the town’s famous Boys Club, following in the footsteps of Newcastle and England stars such as Peter Beardsley and Alan Shearer. He played for local area junior representative sides and caught the eye after making it to the England Under-16 team. However, it was not the local giant Newcastle United that picked him up, but West Ham.

He joined the Hammers’ acclaimed academy and helped the team win the FA Youth Cup in amazing fashion in 1999, scoring twice in a stunning 9-0 rout of Coventry in the final.

Carrick’s first team debut came the following season but he had to wait until after loan moves to Swindon and Birmingham for more regular first team opportunities.

He made his mark in the 2000-01 season and earned a nomination for the Professional Footballers Association’s Young Player of the Year award. His progress continued the following year but endured an injury-hit 2002-03 campaign and could not prevent the club from relegation from the English Premier League.

Carrick decided to stick with the Hammers at the lower level but after failing to win promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt, he decided to move on. For some time Arsenal seemed his likely destination as uncertainty surrounded the future of their star midfielder Patrick Vieira, but that move never materialised. Eventually it was Tottenham who bought him for GBP2.75million.

Carrick enjoyed two highly-impressive seasons at White Hart Lane as Spurs, under Martin Jol, started competing at the top end of the EPL. Carrick’s reputation as a fine passer grew and he broke into the England squad in time for the 2006 World Cup.

United showed interest in him as they were looking for a replacement for club legend Roy Keane. With Spurs having narrowly failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the offer of Old Trafford was hard to resist but United had to pay GBP18.6 million to acquire him.

Carrick’s first season began slowly but he gradually found his feet and proved a vital member of the team as United reclaimed the EPL title.

On the international front, Carrick was given two substitute appearances by Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2001 but did not pick him again for four years. He went to the World Cup in Germany and played in one match. He has been a regular member of the England team, although not a first choice, since.

The 2002-03 campaign was one to forget for Carrick and West Ham. The club struggled from the start and the fans showed their displeasure on some of the players, including Carrick, who was booed at times. Injuries bothered him throughout the season and prevented him from consistent display in a struggling team. A groin problem suffered during England Under-21 duty eventually ended his season in March. Carrick married his childhood sweetheart Lisa Roughead in a GBP500,000 ceremony in a Leicestershire mansion in June 2007, interestingly on the same day England team-mates Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard tied the knots with their partners. The couple met at high school. Lisa is a pilates teacher with a business degree. They live together in a GBP4million mansion in Cheshire which boasts seven bedrooms, a library, cinema and a swimming pool.

Carrick was recently spotted driving to Old Trafford in a sleek black Mercedes. It was possibly an SL65, one of the most popular models among Premier League footballers. This car cost around GBP140,000 and has a top speed of 155mph.

FACTFILE Name: Michael Carrick Position: Midfielder Club: Manchester United D.O.B.: 28/07/1981 England Caps: 14 England Goals: 0 England Debut: v Mexico, May 2001 Moment to remember

Last season Carrick set United on the way to a stunning 7-1 win over Roma in the UEFA Champions League with a brilliant curling opener at Old Trafford. He followed it up with another in the game.

Moment to forget

“He’s one of our young players and if our own supporters get on his back it’s going to make life even more difficult for him,” said then West Ham boss Glenn Roeder after Carrick was roundly booed by his fans in a defeat by West Brom in September 2002. “It’s very unfair of the supporters, he doesn’t deserve it, he’s an honest, hard-working, very talented player.”

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