Carrick and Fletcher, Underestimating The Undermined

Muazzin MehrbanCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2010

Unfashionable always, awkward looking yes, untanned and unwaxed, probably but highly effective? most of their opposition would nod straight away. Indeed Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, two players that have accumulated four major honours (apologies to Carling) in the past four years, have been undermined to the point where they have become void of any form of significant praise, both as individuals and as a partnership.

But over recent months, given how the departure of Ronaldo was meant to send United into perennial decline, and their midfield legends Giggs and Scholes now old enough to be on AC Milan's radar, these two rather reclusive characters appear to have come out of their less than cosy shells (message boards have demanded their blood in previous years).

In truth, Rooney's goals alone and the exploits of their marauding full back Evra, would not be enough to see United sitting in a position where both European and domestic glories are a possibility and given United's habit of picking up towards the end of a season, maybe even a probability domestically.

Behind United's star players, of which there are two fewer since the summer, lie two quite traditional midfielders, both with quintessential British attributes, fitness, work ethic and a solid technique, which over the years has now come to be honed with an added steel and sure enough, flair.

Fletcher's ability, yes ability to break up play, and then apply a well placed pass following a surge from defence to midfield, has provided United with a directness reminiscent to the team of 99. Furthermore, as a failed play-maker of sorts, he has maintained a a good sense of distribution and still has a killer pass in his locker.

If Fletcher is the breaker, then Carrick is perhaps the maker in this midfield tandem. Laid back, seemingly unfussed at times, it appears that Carrick may well take a similar approach to life as the Dalai Lama, or maybe a better comparison, Dimitar Berbatov. However, the stats show that he covers just as much ground as United's more obvious grafters. Granted he does not appear as involved as his midfield compatriots, but in the absence of Scholes, is there a better all round passer in England?

They may not have the look of world beaters, and in their styles and appearance it is certainly a case of function over form. But once you look beyond Xavi and Iniesta, the next most consistent, productive and cohesive midfield pairing in Europe may well be, dare i say it...United's current standing in England and on the Continent appears to make it a worthy claim.

(Special mention to Alex Ferguson, who has proved in the past that worthy partnerships can be formed under the right circumstance. United managed to finish second in the 2005-2006 campaign playing the latter half of the season with a central duo of Ryan Giggs and John O'Shea.)