Ray Wilkins has insisted that Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho must start Michael Carrick if they are to beat rivals Arsenal on Saturday.
The 60-year-old and former United player is adamant that defeat to the Gunners this weekend would be a disaster for the Red Devils in terms of their top-four aspirations.
Currently, there is a six-point gap between the two sides, and Wilkins argued that if it widens further, it could be a real problem for his old club.
Nevertheless, he looked at the keys to winning the showdown at Old Trafford this weekend, and believes Carrick will be pivotal to the hopes of the hosts.
“I don’t think United have controlled many games,” he told Sky Sports. “I think with Carrick in the side that’s the only option they have to get some semblance of control and a bit of serenity.
“He sees the game so well, he can hit long passes and if United are going to push up and attack Arsenal you’re going to need that guy, with all his knowledge, to stop counter-attacks.
“I think Michael will have to play for United to have a good chance.”
Interestingly, United have won games against Manchester City, Swansea City and Fenerbahce where Carrick completed 90 minutes, and so the veteran evidently still has an important role to play for the team despite the fact that he turns 36 next year.
That’s a concern in itself looking at the long-term situation, but with Arsenal up next, Mourinho will have to find the right balance in his side to make it difficult for the visitors to settle into a rhythm and dictate the tempo.
Wilkins makes a valid point and Carrick remains critical to United’s form, but it remains to be seen whether or not Mourinho agrees when he selects his midfield.