Carrick (next to DDG) has been Man Utd's best player in the past 6 games. He is the type of player under-appreciated by fans because he doesn't run around charging like a headless chicken, and doesn't dribble past 2 players then blast the ball 20 yards into the stand (AKA the type of player who excites fans but does not provide much to the team).
Carrick rarely gives the ball away, always "shows" for the ball and collects it from defenders, and relieves pressure off his defence by spreading the play and keeping possession. This is the type of thing that the average football fan does not "see". It takes an "educated football eye" to spot things like that. That is why the likes of Neville, Didi Hamann, and Carragher (who have played in Champions League finals and the World Cup) keep raving about how important Carrick is, while fans think he is crud.
This is what Dietmar Hamman said about him today:
Man Utd: 'Michael Carrick the catalyst for their return to form'
David De Gea's saves will grab the headlines but Michael Carrick played a big part in Manchester United's 3-0 victory over Liverpool and it does not surprise me that they have now won all six games since he returned to their starting line-up after injury.
Carrick is probably used to playing well and seeing other players get the plaudits, but you can tell how much his team-mates value him.
United striker Robin van Persie said after Sunday's game that Carrick made the difference at the back because he was so confident on the ball and helped to calm the whole defence. That sums it up.
Carrick sets the tempo on a regular basis for United, only he is usually operating in central midfield rather than at centre-back, as he was against Liverpool.
He has the attributes to play in both positions, though, and the only problem he gives United boss Louis van Gaal is that there is only one of him - at the moment Van Gaal would probably love to play him at the back and in midfield too.
Carrick is very under-rated outside of Old Trafford but he clearly has a huge influence on United.
Sometimes, with players like him, you only realise how important they are when they don't play. I think his absence really showed that at the start of this season, especially with this United team being so uncertain at the back.
Now he is fit, he brings them the stability they were missing, partly through his passing ability which helps to set the team's tempo.
He helps keep the team ticking over by picking the right pass and spreading play like he did against Liverpool.
Carrick vs Liverpool
Carrick touched the ball 59 times, and made 52 passes with a completion rate of 90.4%
Carrick understands that, whether you are playing centre-back or central midfield, you have to react to what is happening on the pitch.
He is not a player who plays to the crowd by trying the spectacular, instead he plays for the team - which is why his team-mates appreciate him so much.
The way he plays, you know he is always available and ready for the ball. And, if you give it to him then, nine times out of 10, he will retain possession.
Carrick's main strengths are on the ball, but he can tackle too and he made a few vital challenges against Liverpool.
Yes, it probably suited him in the first half on Sunday that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers picked a side without a recognised centre-forward.
That still meant he had to deal with Reds forward Raheem Sterling, who is lightning quick. Carrick is not the fastest but he never looked out of position as the middle centre-back in a three-man back-line, which tells you about his awareness and positional sense.
He is the sort of player that you can rely on, and one that you always know what you are getting from.
I remember coming up against him when he came through at West Ham and then moved to Tottenham, and I have always rated him.
Many years ago, I thought England were making a mistake not building a team around him and he has gone on to become the best defensive midfielder that they have had in the last 15 years.
Yes, he has gone to major tournaments with England but he has only won 31 caps.
At 32 he is now nearing the end of his career, but I am surprised he was never given more of a chance on the international stage.