Michael Carrick celebrates his goal v. Wolfsburg in the early stages of the Champion's League (Getty Images)
Rio Ferdinand. John O’Shea. Jonny Evans. Gary Neville. Peanut Head. Fabio da Silva. Rafael da Silva. And Nemanja Vidić stricken with the flu. United are, in Sir Alex’s words, “down to the barebones” on defense. It’s not a good thing.
All of that means that Michael Carrick (!) and Patrice Evra (!!) will start as center backs versus Wolfsburg and their 6’3″ striker Edin Dzeko (perhaps a transfer target for United. Though I’d still like to see them go after Igor Akinfeev and a central defender or 3. Oh, how I wish Gerard Piqué was still at Old Trafford. But I digress). Perhaps it is not the best time to mention that Evra is, in fact, a midget. Even though the Red Devils are already through to the second round, finishing second in the group might result in facing Real Madrid or Barcelona, which is not altogether appealing at the moment. Thus a win is probably necessary.
Sir Alex is going to have to break out one of his better inspirational speeches and play very conservatively at the back. No playing the offside trap or anything that smacks of taking a chance. In any event, even though Wolfsburg are on a poor run of form, they can’t be taken lightly. Dzeko has been a goal-scoring savant and the lack of a Vidić or a Ferdinand in the middle will not help things.
Michael Carrick celebrates his goal v. Wolfsburg (Getty Images)
So I’ve started to expect very little from Michael Carrick and, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw him play. So, to have him play AND score the winning goal? Dayum.
Of course, Carrick scoring a goal isn’t entirely unexpected since he has scored reasonably often in the past. It’s just that he’s having a completely miserable season so far. Perhaps this will be the spark to ignite his fire, so to speak.
In many ways, Carrick, Nani, and Antonio Valencia (he of the 3 goals last year and yes, he’s expected to replace CRonaldo’s 70-something over the last two years) have been the yang to Ryan Giggs’s yin. According to espn.com, some United fans have been agitating for Giggs to be knighted. Where’s the petition? I’ll sign it twice. But I digress. Giggs, once again, fueled United’s fire by scoring his 150th goal in a Red Devil jersey. That’s incredible. Carrick, Nani and Valencia need to sit down with an assistant coach and watch the build-up to each on, just to see what Giggs does and what they don’t.
I am impressed by United’s win. I rate Wolfsburg highly and expected a difficult match. I was worried about their goal-scoring machines Eden Dzeko and Grafite. This was an important match to win in terms of the Champion’s League. Perhaps more importantly, it kept United rolling in all competitions. Once again, thanks to Giggs.