Rio Ferdinand has called for Michael Carrick to start getting the recognition he deserves.
The 31-year-old's understated brilliance was encapsulated by the magnificent pass that picked out Javier Hernandez for United's opener against Chelsea on Sunday. Yet the aftermath of that FA Cup quarter-final still centred around Rafael Benitez and Wayne Rooney, with very little on Carrick.
"Michael is the most under-rated and under-valued player in the league," Ferdinand said. "No-one else could play a pass like he did for Javier's goal. It has to be the ball of the season. But I am sure no-one will talk about it."
The 34-year-old defender added: "It will be swept under the carpet and all the talk will be about other players who maybe do a little bit more explosive things than Michael does. He is laid back and plays at his own pace, so he always goes un-noticed. But he is valued highly by each member of our squad, don't worry about that."
Carrick has denied it often enough in the past, but there is a perception he has assumed more authority this term. He has stepped out of the vast shadow created by the presence of Paul Scholes and with almost seven years' experience at Old Trafford behind him, Carrick is now one of the key go-to men in Ferguson's squad.
Ferdinand said: "With Scholesy not playing as many games the responsibility has gone to Michael and he has handled it superbly. You just wish players like that didn't have to go through their careers searching for accolades. You would like to think people would give them out. That hasn't been the case with Michael, which is unfortunate."
Ferdinand's irritation at the lack of plaudits for his long-time team-mate exceeded that created by the loss of a two-goal lead against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The draw might have caused a massive headache for the FA's fixture compilers, who must now await the outcome of Chelsea's Europa League encounter with Steaua Bucharest before they can arrange a date for the replay, but United are not complaining.
After all, but for David de Gea's last-gasp save, the Red Devils would have been out, which following on from that shattering Champions League exit to Real Madrid would have created a momentum United did not want.
"It was a tough pill to swallow the other night," said Ferdinand. "But our first-half performance against Chelsea showed that we have moved on from it mentally. There is a lot of experience in our changing room and this situation has happened before, even if not quite at this magnitude. At this club you know things come round thick and fast."