Memories of a stormy night in Moscow are all that will be left from this summer after Michael Carrick announced his intention to join Manchester United’s coaching staff.
When the 36-year-old receives a deserved ovation upon his final run-out at Old Trafford, it will signal the last departure from the side which conquered Europe all the way back in 2007/08.
Luminaries for whom you’d imagine any organisation would want to retain and harvest as much of the legendary experience gained in this cherished time period. But not if you are the Red Devils.
Forget mere coaching positions, competitors at home and abroad do not view the idea of entrusting celebrated footballers to carry out football operations as a misnomer.
At Juventus, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Manchester City and beyond, this approach would be deemed incompatible with sporting and commercial achievement.
Delivering apt acclaim for this lionised, Champions League-winning line-up is hard to achieve. It was littered with world-class performers, of whom the majority stuck around to claim 13 major trophies between the reinvigorating 2006/07 Premier League success and 2012/13 last top-flight title which heralded the tumultuous exit of manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The most-glorious era at one of the world’s storied clubs.
Carrick was then in the process of proving he deserved to be in the exalted company of men like midfield terrier Paul Scholes and ‘Welsh wizard’ Ryan Giggs. Those two, in retirement, have either divorced from the club (Giggs) or been denied a permanent route back in (Scholes).
If Carrick had chosen to break free upon 2017/18’s completion, it would have ensured none of the iconic roster remain within this gargantuan outfit’s infrastructure. Not on the training pitch, not in the boardroom, not anywhere.
What a colossal waste of human resource – even accounting for Carrick’s retention.
But it does beg the question whether such a cerebral footballer deserves consideration for a higher calling?
Even if Carrick wants to only follow the coaching path, like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, why are none of his United contemporaries gaining experience and contributing to the running of the club?
Sir Bobby Charlton has held a seat on the board since 1984. There is no sign of such a position being given out today.
Inside the Theatre of Dreams’ corridors, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and group managing director Richard Arnold carry out the Glazers’ bidding. Woodward’s position, in particular, encompasses both commercial and sporting activities.
Signs that a grasp on buying premium footballers was belatedly gained with the skilled acquisition of Paul Pogba in August 2016, thus ending the world’s most-expensive work-experience placement.
David Moyes, for all his faults, was left hanging in a summer of 2013 that promised Gareth Bale but only delivered an over-priced Marouane Fellaini. A learned hand was then unable to correct the procrastinating excesses of Louis van Gaal, before Mourinho offered clarity and contacts.
Expensive mistakes that an expert’s eye would have avoided.
It is common practice at many of United’s rivals, at home and abroad, to give a much-wider remit to the men who played with distinction.
Among many examples, two-time World Cup runner-up Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and World Cup-winner Uli Hoeness have ballooned Bayern Munich’s already healthy revenues and standing within the game.
2003 Ballon d’Or winner Pavel Nedved is the vice-chairman of Juventus’ board of directors, Emilio Butragueno has parlayed being Real Madrid’s finest footballer of the 1980s into a range of prominent administrative and footballing positions there.
Knowledge accrued in almost 500 appearances for Borussia Dortmund has allowed Michael Zorc to become a tremendously successful sporting director for them.
At the “noisy neighbours”, Txiki Begiristain is the conductor behind City’s recruitment process which has blossomed under his former Barcelona team-mate Pep Guardiola.
Soon after exiting United in 2011, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar became Ajax’s marketing director. He has since been promoted to CEO, combining with director of football Marc Overmars to ignominiously dismiss their celebrated Netherlands peer Dennis Bergkamp from the coaching staff last month.
Whether Carrick desires a similar path, is unknown. Yet it is the fact that it is, seemingly, closed off to him and his team-mates which puts United behind the curve.
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