I got the feeling last season that the united fitness schedule is such that the players all hit peak fitness and consequently form at different times,so that we get waves of above average player performances that win games without burning an individual player out, so that outstanding performances by a couple of players and "average" performances by the rest of the team saw united rack up points and play to a consistant level to win the league.
Eg: in december star man was carrick, january was giggs,
feb was scholes, and march was fletcher...
then then in april and may,as we chased trophies, Ronaldo and Rooney came to the party and all the midfielders increased their performances to match.
So could we simply be doing the same thing this season? Is carrick being spared for the colder months, where giggs and scholes may not be as agile/flexible, match fit for the night games and afternoon kickoffs in the wind, rain and snow? Are Strudwick and sir Alex trying to get the best out of giggs and scholes before the colder months make them more sensitive to injuries.
Or is it a mental thing? Did the defeat at the hands of Xavi, iniesta, Yaya and Messi simply strip Carrick of his nerve? did that fateful night in rome, where he and anderson were at fault, along with giggs, park and ronaldo for conceding possession and territory to the Blaugrauna, scar him so badly that his simple game has fallen victim to the whims of that flightful force that is form?
Is it a tactical thing? Has Sir Alex realised that to truly unlock berbatov's potential, he needs service from a great passer playing further up the field? Has Carrick been pigeon holed as a number 10 play maker, who hasn't been used as scholes and giggs' attributes, mainly the long range passing from deep, scholes, and the ability to run at opposing central midfielders and split the defense with short passing from Giggs, has sidelined him to games in which his allround box-to-box skills are needed the most, and in which time and space on the ball are at a premium.
Or is it physical? At the end of last season, we could tell that Carrick was playing through the pain, and we learnt after the Champions' League final that he was playing with a fractured foot. Which caused Capello to spit the dummy and ask why injured players think they can play well enough to win games when theiry clearly unfit, and Carrick hasn't seen many minutes for the Three Lions since, so could it be some continuing discomfort from that broken foot?
Either way, i'm hoping carrick returns to form soon, as his brand of movement,man-marking, defensive positioning, passing, ball retention and "fluke-looking" shooting is sorely missed.