"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play…it is war minus the shooting."
Between the Lines
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Michael Carrick, London, Blink, 2018. ISBN 978-1-788700-49-8The opening works of the book are “I didn’t just play for Manchester United. I lived for them” which sums up the intensity of playing for a club which has to win every week. Elsewhere he writes: “Playing for Manchester united was a riding a train that never slowed. It just kept rolling on stopping for no one”.
Another example of this was his comments on playing against Joe Cole, a friend from their days as teenagers at West Ham: “Coley was one of my best mates growing up, but I felt only coldness on match days. I always shake hands after games and say ‘well played’ or ‘all the best’. Only a brief exchange, though. When I see players from opposing teams chatting coming off the pitch or in the tunnel, I don’t like it. It’s about being ruthless”.
The book charts his career from school through West Ham and Tottenham to Manchester United and England. It is well above average for a football autobiography, particularly in the way Carrick addresses difficult issues with honesty.
He describes how losing a Champions’ League final to Barcelona in 2009 lead to what he calls depression which took years to get over: “I couldn’t get it out of my head. It sounds melodramatic but I never recovered from it…I had to fight through the depths of depression and that took a long, long time…Depression over a game of football sounds extreme, doesn’t it? But I genuinely felt in a very dark place. It might sound a crazy exaggeration comparing football to the death but after Rome I felt like I was grieving…Even now on, almost a decade on, the gloom from Rome has not completely gone”.
Other brilliant sections of the book include:
The description of the intensity of the penalty shootout in the 2008 Champions’ League Final;
His analysis of why his Manchester United team was so dominant and why they scored so many late goals;
His honesty in describing the “lonely place when you’re not in the team,training and trying to give your best”
Carrick played in two losing Champions’ League finals. His analysis of the two, and why the second was easier to take, is riveting reading.
His comparison of managers played under.
He refers to attending church as a boy until the point he realized none of his football friends did. He refers to having: “been brought up with strong Christian values”. He thanks God in the book and refers to his son’s christening.
Well above average as a football book.