Unsung Reds: Mata makes a claim for Carrick
Juan Mata believes Michael Carrick's talents would have been properly appreciated if he was Spanish.
The Reds midfielder has great respect for the first-team coach after playing alongside him for the club and had no hesitation in naming Carrick when asked by Stewart Gardner to join our debate on the most unsung United players.
Although the 38-year-old won 34 caps for his country, there is a persuasive argument that he deserved more recognition at international level.
“And, from my point of view, he didn't have the media talking about him, or even the fans speaking about his importance, but it was just a joy to play alongside him. As an attacking football player, when you have Michael in behind, you know he's going to find you. Wherever you move, he's going to find you.
“I joke with him, calling him the quarterback of a football team because you make the movement and the ball is going to fall into your run. It's not going into your feet but into your run, exactly what you want, to control it and keep going.
“He didn't need to be so aggressive. He'd read before where the ball was going to go and made the recovery.
“For me, he was a fantastic midfielder and, for some times of his career, he was under-rated or under-appreciated - in the national team and for the club.”
Although the competition for places in Spain's national team would have been fierce with the side conquering the world, Stewart suggested to Juan that Carrick may have won 100 caps had he been born in the former Chelsea man's homeland.
"Because of the way he plays, this type of player is very appreciated in Spain," said Mata. "He probably would have been bigger than he actually was here."
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