In what was certainly one of Jose Mourinho’s most important games as Manchester United manager, the side did come up trumps in the EFL Cup. United had lost three games on the spin, an almost unbelievable stat, and there was a lot of pressure on the team to get back to winning ways.
Manchester United did labour a bit, especially when Northampton equalised from the spot. But the Red Devils had too much quality for their lower league side and eventually won 3-1. One of the players that had a horrid game was Wayne Rooney but another star actually did pretty well.
Michael Carrick was making his first appearance in the side this season after the Community Shield and the 35-year-old Englishman was impressive. It is a bit of a surprise as to why Jose Mourinho has been reluctant to play the Englishman but Carrick’s performance should give the Portuguese a lot to think over.
The former Tottenham star is one of the best players when it comes to pinging the ball around from midfield and starting attacks. Carrick’s range of passing is second to none in the United side and he would also provide a better balance to the midfield when played with Paul Pogba.
This has been one of the major problems for Mourinho; how to effectively use the most expensive player in the world. Pogba has been poor but that is partly due to the fact that he has been played with the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Morgan Schneiderlin this season.
While Schneiderlin and Fellaini do provide a lot of bite in midfield, they cannot control or dictate play. That falls on the shoulders of Paul Pogba and the Frenchman has struggled to perform in this role. When he was in Juventus, Pogba had the likes of Andrea Pirlo who would be setting up the attack and the Frenchman was allowed to play more freely.
At United, he is shackled and he needs to be set free. Playing Carrick in the side might mean that Manchester United do not have the same steel in the heart of the park but it will let Pogba play in a more accustomed role.
Carrick can be the creator in the midfield and his inch perfect passing would certainly help unlock more defences and make the Red Devils a bigger threat than what they are at the moment. Fellaini and Schneiderlin cannot play in such a role. Carrick would also be sitting right in front of the defence and providing a shield for United. This would give Pogba the chance to do what he does best and that is attack.
This could be the major change that gets Manchester United back on track and who knows, this could lead them to a couple of titles.