Succeeding In The Shadows: Michael Carrick Set For Big First Full Season At Boro

The former midfielder has always gone about his work unassumingly
14:07, 23 Jun 2023

Michael Carrick was always on the fringes of England’s so-called Golden Generation.

Often overlooked and in the shadow of the more stellar names of that time, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole, he went about things quietly.

Gliding around a football pitch with measured authority, looking back you can see why he has moved effortlessly into management, taking steady steps on a gradual upward trajectory.

The personality traits have not changed from the days when Carrick would travel more than 200 miles from Newcastle as a 12-year-old to train with West Ham United during the school holidays.

Such determination and commitment at such a young age, and all done with modesty and humility.


Perhaps that is why Carrick only earned 34 England caps during a career which ultimately netted him five Premier League trophies, the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup. He retired as one of the most decorated players of all time.

Carrick has more league titles than Lampard, Terry, Cole, certainly Gerrard. He has as many as Wayne Rooney.

His peers have tried their hand at coaching or management. Four of them are currently unemployed, one is working in MLS.

While Carrick, now 41, prepares for pre-season training to start next Tuesday with Middlesbrough, he is slowly but surely gaining a reputation as a manager with the intelligence to make it to the top level eventually.

So much so that a quick call to his agent revealed the fact they have parted ways recently, with his adviser happily confessing: “Michael’s so smart, he doesn’t need an agent.”


This will be his first full campaign at the Riverside Stadium. He got the job last October and turned Boro into a creeping powerhouse. They were 21st in the table at the time of his appointment. By the end of the season they were undone by a solitary goal against Coventry City in the play-off semi-finals.

He was linked heavily with former club West Ham when the position of their manager David Moyes came under intense pressure during their struggles last season.

It will be fascinating to see where it goes from here on Teesside. Carrick was quick to play down rumours of a possible return to east London because he wants to see the project through.

The temptation to jump high and quickly must have been great. Lampard could not resist the poisoned chalice passed his way when his beloved Chelsea came calling just a year into managing Derby County.

Eighteen months later he was sacked, then followed a disastrous move to Everton and by the end of last season he was filling in for 11 games with Cole at his side as a jobbing caretaker coach back at Stamford Bridge trying in vain to stop a runaway bus as the team spiralled into a deep-set rut.

Lampard is now between jobs. The same goes for Gerrard. Catapulted from managing Liverpool’s youth teams to the bear pit of Glasgow with Rangers, then followed Aston Villa and the sack last October. All within the space of five years. Gerrard is now turning down employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Poland.

Rooney performed admirably at Derby in the wake of Lampard’s departure with the club’s well-documented issues and consequential relegation. He is now across the Atlantic at DC United.

Terry has tried twice and came unstuck both times with his forays into coaching. Each time he has teamed up with Dean Smith, at Aston Villa and Leicester City. He could not keep City in the Premier League last season and as such is now surplus to requirements.

Carrick is doing what he has always done; soldiering on in the background. He did it that way as a coach behind the scenes at Manchester United and was unbeaten in his three games as interim boss after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked.

This will be a big year for Carrick and there is every reason to suspect it will be a big success, if a quiet one.


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