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07th Jun 2017

Michael Carrick explains how he ended up inheriting Roy Keane’s shirt number

Carrick joined United a few months after Keane left

Robert Redmond

Michael Carrick had a very difficult task in 2006.

Carrick joined from Manchester United from Tottenham Hotspur, and was tasked with filling the void caused by Roy Keane’s departure. The Irishman had been at the club for 12 years before he left in November 2005, and was the driving force behind United’s most successful period.

While not a direct replacement, as there wasn’t another personality or player like Keane, there was a gaping hole in United’s midfield that Carrick had to fill. He hasn’t done too badly.

Carrick is still at the club and has won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League during his time at Old Trafford.

Eleven years after signing, Carrick remains an important player, having recently signed a one-year contract extension, and he had his testimonial earlier this month.

While now widely respected among football fans, Carrick wasn’t always appreciated, and unfavourable comparisons were made from time to time with the previous United number 16.

Keane and Carrick shared an ability to control the pace of the game, to make pinpoint forward passes, breaking the lines and getting the ball to strikers’ feet. However their personalities, and playing style, are very different, which made comparisons between them slightly unfair on Carrick.

During a chat with Colin Murray, on a new BBC 5 Live podcast series called At Home… with Colin Murray, which also features interviews with Jamie Carragher and Gary Lineker, the midfielder was asked how did he end up with Keane’s old squad number.

The number 16 jersey was the source of many of the unfair comparisons between the two, but Carrick said he didn’t intentionally take it, but it was suggested by Sir Alex Ferguson.

“It wasn’t a deal at all (to be given the squad number),” he said.

“I was sitting in the boss’ office, I think it was the first day I was there, and he said: ‘What squad number do you want?’ I said, ‘I’m not fussed to be honest’. He said, ‘What about number 16?’

“I said, ‘Yeah, no problem. And literally, that was the conversation. I really didn’t give a monkey’s, to be honest. It really didn’t bother me one bit.

“And then obviously after that comparisons were made, and I suppose it’s natural, isn’t it? But, for me, it literally did not bother me one bit. I was never going to be Roy Keane, (we have) totally different personalities, totally different players. But that’s the way it is, that’s football.”

In another interview, this time with Paul Merson on Fantasy Football XI, Carrick reiterated the difference between him and Keane, but praised the former United captain’s passing ability.

“What a player, just relentless,” Carrick said.

“Do you know what he was so good at but never gets credit for? Playing it into the forward’s feet. His passing was different class.

“People say about his forward runs, and he’s aggressive, his tackling, and a leader in general, but technically he was top drawer and that gets overlooked at times”

At Home with Colin Murray launches as a BBC 5Live podcast series on June 17. The show will feature in-depth interviews with the likes of  Gary Lineker, Nicola Adams, Kumar Sangakkara, Dan Hardy, Michael Carrick and Asmir Begovic among others.