How will Michael Carrick's Manchester United career be remembered? Well, let's look at the reaction to his arrival almost 12 years ago and then assess the facts.
Two years earlier, the White Hart Lane club had coughed up £2.75million to bring Carrick across London from West Ham. Now the talk was he would cost the Reds £18.6million. Was he worth it?
United's chief executive at the time, David Gill, commented:
“The figure of £18.6million has been bandied around but that is the maximum we have to pay for Michael. The actual guarantee is £14million and we believe that’s an appropriate figure.”
It felt like the Reds were absurdly having to justify the outlay on a quality player with proven Premier League pedigree.
“I think we may have ended up paying two pence more than I would have liked,” joked Sir Alex Ferguson.
“But no more. Negotiations are always like this. Eventually, you get to a point where both sides may be unhappy but you shake hands and get on with it. That’s where we got to with this one. People thought we overpaid for Gary Pallister and Roy Keane but time proved we were right. Hopefully, that will prove the case with Michael.”
It was funny he should mention Keane because Carrick was taking over the Irishman's no.16 shirt and it was a huge one to fill. This unassuming Geordie mentioned Paul Gascoigne as a hero of his at his press conference and that prompted an even unkinder comparison with the gifted 1990 World Cup star than any direct reference to Keane.
One journalist wrote that Carrick may have pretended to be Gascoigne while growing up in Wallsend,
“even if the the years have shown him to be somewhat short of Gazza's class.”
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“There is room for improvement in my game,”he countered.
“And I know I can become a better player at United. The people here are going to help me come on leaps and bounds.”
How right he was. How right Sir Alex was. The midfield playmaker would go on to be worth every penny of his fee, even the 2p the Scot felt he overpaid. Did he ever truly earn the recognition he deserved? Maybe only in the twilight of his career but then he would not be alone in that respect at United.
Overlooked by England too often? Almost certainly but he can look at his achievements, other than his 34 caps, and feel his decision to move to United was unequivocally the correct one.
The man who was voted the club's Player of the Year in 2012/13 has earned respect from everybody at United, on and off the field, and is rightly to be remembered as a club legend. As for Gascoigne, and this is in no way any attempt to underplay his majestic brilliance on a footballing field, it might be fair to say he did not make as good a career move as his fellow Geordie. Gazza's club honours amount to one FA Cup, when he was injured early in the final, and four trophies in Scotland with Rangers.
Even if you agree with the journalist about any direct comparison over two individuals with very different styles, it's impossible to overlook what Carrick has achieved in the game. He is yet another example of Sir Alex's astute buying in the transfer market and will retire safe in the knowledge that he was one hell of a signing.
The opinions expressed in this article are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.