IN June 2006 Spurs manager Martin Jol was trying his best to make it plain that Michael Carrick would not be leaving the club.
“We are building something here and I can’t do without him,” he said.
“I told the chairman I want to keep him and the board don’t want to sell him. He’s got a contract for two years and that’s it.
“Spurs is a good club and Michael knows that. We will do a good job in the next couple of seasons and he will be happy at Spurs.”
Today in 2006, just a month after Jol’s words, Carrick signed for Manchester United.
Sometimes you have to wonder if Fergie had just got too much cash to spend at Old Trafford because he shelled out a whopping £18.6m for the midfielder from Wallsend, just days after selling prolific striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid for just over £10m.
United had lost their most potent goal threat, and signed a young midfielder for a net loss of £8m. Had Fergie lost it? Mark Longden of the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association thought so. He told BBC Sport at the time: “I cannot understand what is going on.
“I have not spoken to anybody who, when £18.6m became available, would have spent that on Michael Carrick.
“But people have questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgment in the past and finished up with egg on their face and I hope it happens again.”
The deal represented a massive profit for Spurs who had paid just £2.75m to West Ham for Carrick in 2004. Bernie Kingsley, of Tottenham fanzine Cock-a-Doodle-Do, said the White Hard Lane fans were not too bothered to lose him: “The general view among Tottenham fans is that it is a good deal. I don’t think fans will be desperately upset.
“You should not let good players go, particularly to clubs you are hoping to be competing against.
“But for that sort of money – and with midfielders Tom Huddlestone and Didier Zokora at the club – it has got to be good business.”
Zakora aside, Carrick’s departure did not seem to impact on the team’s results as Tottenham finished fifth in the league, the same position they had achieved the previous season with him in the side.
Meanwhile, Manchester United managed to wrestle the title back from Chelsea with Carrick playing regularly in their midfield, so perhaps Fergie was right after all.
Here is Carrick scoring in United’s 7-1 demolition of Roma at Old Trafford in the Champions League in 2007, and come back tomorrow for a tale that should serve as a warning about the perils of being promoted above you abilities.