Michael Carrick’s World Cup snub has roots in United failings
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick hasn’t played for England since last October, but could arguably point to club, rather than personal form, for his World Cup omission.
Not too many eyebrows were raised when Roy Hodgson named the 23 men that would depart for Brazil.
Ashley Cole let the secret out on Twitter that he would not be involved, while Phil Jones has been given the benefit of the doubt over fitness concerns.
The biggest talking point arguably is that Carrick is unlikely to play any part for the 2014 showpiece, surprisingly agreeing to remain part of the stand-by list, something Cole refused.
A divisive player at club, never mind international level, he has found himself surplus to requirements. Hardly new territory for the 32 year-old in an England shirt.
The midfielder has just 31 caps, and only 11 in the past four years, so while it may not be a huge shock, he can look at the midfield options and count himself unlucky.
Not a player to grab the headlines, or indeed the game by the scruff of the neck, Carrick is however one of the few English players comfortable in possession. The ‘quarter-back’ tag has perhaps been used more in derision, but remains a technically astute player.
Last year he was voted United’s Player of the Year and named in the PFA Team of the Year, so he is more widely appreciated by his peers than those in the stands.
Like his Old Trafford team-mates, his form has not reached the same heights this year, but he may be paying a very heavy price for the spectacular downturn in fortunes since Alex Ferguson left last summer.
One of the first names on David Moyes’ team-sheets, he was certainly no worse than any of his colleagues, though that might not be the strongest barometer.
And whatever the opinion on Carrick, the biggest argument should rest on whether he is better than the options Hodgson ultimately chose?
This is England’s second youngest World Cup squad ever chosen. A glance at the caps accumulated points to huge potential, yet even greater inexperience at the highest level.
Aside from Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and James Milner, there is little experience to call on should England reach the knock-out stages and look to eek out a result. And that is if they even get that far.
Carrick has more Three Lions appearances than Alex xlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling combined. Jack Wilshere, an injury concern, has just 15 caps.
The afore-mentioned are outstanding talents, but lack experience in big games. They will be primed for the European Championships in 2016, but Brazil may be too soon for such a big group.
Milner in particular can count himself fortunate to be included, while the Lampard-Gerrard partnership is unlikely to finally come good in the twilight of their respective careers.
Carrick will never be a crowd pleaser and has to an extent failed to deliver on his underage potential – despite an impressive medal collection – but Hodgson may rue placing so much faith in such an inexperienced group vying for midfield positions.