Michael Carrick is arguably Manchester United's most consistent player, yet the midfielder is criminally underrated by some who pass judgement on the game.
It is difficult to think of another player who has inexplicably divided opinion as much as the 31-year-old England international. Critically acclaimed by his peers, he remains largely unappreciated by a mainstream audience.
But how can a man who has lifted eight major trophies since arriving at Old Trafford in 2006 and has started every single Barclays Premier League match for his club in the last 12 months remain so undervalued?
Perhaps Carrick is still being wrongfully compared to his predecessor in United's number 16 shirt, Roy Keane. His reputation as a creative, rather than destructive, player has led to some unfair claims that he cannot blend both tasks. This, for me, is a dated assessment.
The role of the central midfielder has evolved in recent seasons with the deep-lying playmakers shining where the combative box-to-box men once ruled. Across the top flight, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard is arguably the last remaining bastion of the latter.
Sir Alex Ferguson, whose ability to embrace evolution has been central to his success throughout a 26-year reign as boss, has always championed Carrick’s influence and importance, citing his 2006 recruit from Tottenham as the key to all of United’s endeavours this season.
“In the modern game, you don't need tacklers the way you used to,” Sir Alex said. “There's no call for it, it's about anticipation and reading the game. If you look at the central midfielders in the Premier League, Michael can match up to any of them in terms of quality.”
Carlos Queiroz, Sir Alex's former assistant manager, was on the money with this observation in 2007: “Asking a team to win the league without a top-class defensive midfielder is like sending a climber up Everest without oxygen.”