Michael Carrick on the art of passing

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By Miguel Delaney

For Michael Carrick, it wasn’t “the elation of scoring a goal”, but it was “perfect” in a different way. It was the quieter satisfaction of having played a pass exactly as he meant it, and it for to lead to a meaningful moment.

As a highly pensive player who admits he sees every single pass as little building blocks in the grander structure of a game, Carrick says there are two such balls that reached the standards he set for himself. One was for Chicha (Javier Hernandez) against Chelsea in the (2012-13) FA Cup at Old Trafford, over the top and he scored a header,” Carrick says.

“Then Berba (Dimitar Berbatov), Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in the (2008-09) FA Cup… they were just two moments when you see the pass and you execute it, and it plays out exactly like that picture you had before it happens.

Sometimes you play a pass, and you get there, but it wasn’t quite exactly how you see it, or it didn’t fall how you like it.”

The mindset behind this is evidently as perceptive as the passing. “It’s quick. You’re talking like (clicks fingers three times) a flash. But that’s something I enjoyed. That’s the game, the challenge, trying to think ‘what am I aiming to do here? Where do I want to pass the ball? What area do I want to get it in?’ Then it’s instinct… but that’s just me, that’s how I was made, that’s my make-up.”

Carrick is expanding on the insight explored in his new autobiography, ‘Between the Lines’. He became such a continental thoughtful player through his own individual practice. The young Carrick would play onetwos off lampposts for hours on end.

“I loved passing, just feeling the ball against my foot,” he says. “I think any individual, if you enjoy certain things, you tend to practice it more. That was kind of me. Some lads were dribblers, some lads just loved scoring goals, whereas I enjoyed and took pride in practicing my passing and that. That’s how it was.”

It’s led to a highly refined view of the game, as Carrick reveals in his autobiography.

“I really enjoy thinking two or three steps ahead, about how to drag the opposition out of position,” he writes.

“For example, a lot of the time, a midfielder will pass it to a full-back and then the whole stadium claps and goes ‘good pass’. I’ll be thinking, actually, it was pointless. I prefer to keep hold of it and, by the time someone moves, I’ll play it.

“It’s about trying to move the opposition about. An unbelievable 60-yard pass to the winger might be easy for the defence to deal with, whereas a five-yard pass through their two midfielders can suddenly put their whole defensive shape in a mess. It’s not a highlight and it’s not glamorous.”

It’s also a key building block of the modern game. But one that really does require thought. “It is like that, but as long as you understand that actually you’re doing that pass for a reason,” Carrick expands on what he wrote. “Even if it’s back, it’s for a reason, to start again, move it on… but if you’re just passing — passing, passing — blind, without actually realising what you’re trying to achieve, that’s a different scenario. That’s the footballing brain that comes into it.

“It’s the quiet satisfaction when you know you’ve made that little pass. And it’s what you wanted, and you set it up somewhere and dragged them out of position then played it. It’s that satisfaction to think ‘yeah’, that was good. It’s minute detail in the grand scheme of a game but all of them little things add up you know.”

Source: Economic Times