Michael Carrick & Jonny Evans: Man United's Underappreciated Duo Deserve Praise

Luke TaylorCorrespondent IIMarch 23, 2012

Carrick and Evans' Play has been vital in United's Season
Carrick and Evans' Play has been vital in United's SeasonMike Hewitt/Getty Images

When fans begin to discuss Manchester United’s Player of the Year award, there are two unlikely names which deserve discussion: Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans.

The most maligned duo are often the target of criticism, largely due to the unspectacular roles both play, but also due to their low profiles and unglamorous personalities.

Both Evans and Carrick have been excellent this season for the champions, but neither has been given the praise they deserve.

Belfast-born Evans has been a rock at the centre of the United defence; a back line which, for the majority of the season, has had to cope without club captain, and world class centre back, Nemanja Vidic.

Evans has filled the void left by Vidic impressively.

He has shown composure on the ball, looked confident in his defending, and, with the exception of a blip against Manchester City, has had a rather uneventful season.

Evans was inconsistent last season, something which has not blighted him this year. He has been solid throughout the year for the Red Devils and has found himself a vital part of the United back line.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s faith in the Northern Irish defender has again been vindicated, and Evans’ improvements and excellent defending should not go unnoticed.

While he is not as glamorous a name as David Luiz, he has hardly put a foot wrong all season; Evans has come on leaps and bounds since last season, and his fantastic defensive work has been one reason United remain at the top of the Premier League.

Filling in for Nemanja Vidic is no easy feat, but Evans has done this with outstanding results. At just 24 years old, he has shown the promise to become a regular long-term replacement for United at centre-back, and fans have no reason to continue criticising him.

Another name constantly banded around by dissatisfied supporters is Michael Carrick.

The uneducated fan will, at some point in the last year, have expressed his displeasure with Carrick by suggesting he be replaced by Wesley Sneijder.

However, they will have overlooked the fact that both players have very little in common, and it almost certain that those fans who express the view are unaware of the vital role Carrick plays in Manchester United’s lineup.

Sneijder plays an advanced role for both club and country, not dissimilar to that of Wayne Rooney when he is deployed behind Javier Hernandez.

Michael Carrick, meanwhile, is a defensive midfielder, tasked with breaking down opposition attacks, and spreading the play to begin a new United attack.

He does this with unnerving efficiency, with an exceptional work rate, but the position is hardly the sexiest on the football pitch.

Carrick might lack the bite of former United midfielders like Roy Keane and Nicky Butt, but his play deserves the respect of fans.

He consistently breaks down play, before spreading the ball to the flanks to help draw the opposition out and open up space elsewhere on the field. He may not beat players, or score spectacular goals, but he does his job.

His performances protecting the back four this season have been outstanding. Again, each game he goes by largely unnoticed, but this can be considered a good thing considering the role he plays.

Behind more attacking players like Ryan Giggs, Anderson, or even Rooney, Carrick holds the midfield together, and is disciplined enough to allow attacks to go on around him, and cover those who go further forward, such as the full backs, to make sure United are not exploited on the counter attack.

He is nothing like Wesley Sneijder, or Marek Hamsik. He is not a glamorous name, and is hardly the more exciting player to watch, but he is professional and does not crave the spotlight like other midfielders. Carrick, like Evans, has been a vital cog in the United team which tops the table.

He has been terrific this season, and his play has been at such a high standard it rivals United’s top performers this year, arguably Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia.

Both Carrick and Evans have stepped up this year. Both have been excellent, except for the odd mistake on very rare occasions, but neither has been given the credit they deserve from the overwhelming majority of the fan base.

However, without Carrick and Evans turning in such vital performances this year, United would not be top of the division. They have been that important to United this year, and it is time they were recognised for it.