Michael Carrick might have a reputation for staying calm, a character trait which he could well need when he takes caretaker charge of Manchester United for the first time on Tuesday night in a pivotal Champions League game away at Villarreal sure to be full of tension.
But his former United team-mates know another side to him as, during heated computer game sessions, he earned the nickname ‘Havoc’.
Before joining the United coaching staff alongside now sacked boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Carrick made 464 appearances for United between 2006 and 2018. During that time he enjoyed team-building sessions playing military video game SOCOM alongside team-mates including Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Darren Fletcher.
The game became so popular within the United squad that Sir Alex Ferguson had to tell his stars to keep the noise down.
Michael Carrick played the army video game SOCOM with his ex-Man United team-mates
Carrick’s first assignment as caretaker boss is a European clash at Villarreal tonight in Group F
‘It was a bit of an army game, but it was the only game you could play against each other,’ Carrick told the Big Interview podcast, back in 2015. ‘You could get eight v eight, playing against each other.
‘It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so a few lads didn’t play it, but straight away there was just a togetherness and spirit.
‘We all had names and there were a wide variety. We’ll keep a couple secret. Mine was Havoc — I don’t know where it came from.
‘It sounds a little thing, but every time we went on a coach or a train, whether it’s half-an-hour or three hours, the game would get played.
Carrick played the army video game on the team bus with the likes of Darren Fletcher (left)
‘In hotels, it was known that whoever had rooms against each other – if we could play through the wall we’d play against each other.
‘It created a real spirit and that’s from young lads coming into the squad. It’s something to laugh about, something to talk about, something to give people stick about. It was a massive thing for us in the dressing room.
‘There was an enthusiasm and an excitement about it, instead of being on DVDs and then no one would talk to each other for three hours.
‘The boss shouted back a few times to shut up, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t!’
Sir Alex Ferguson had to tell Carrick and his other players to keep the noise down when playing
The former United midfielder also played the game with Wes Brown during their free time
United’s stars’ game of choice was SOCOM
Brown recalled: ‘This one game just took everyone in and started dominating the dressing room.
‘We all had to pick usernames. Michael Carrick was Havoc, Fletch was Haywire, Sheasy was Cobra.
‘The relevance of it all was communication. It sounds really stupid, but in the game you’re doing what you’d do on the pitch.’
Carrick also spoke in the podcast of his love for motor racing, having been to numerous grands prix, including in Monaco back in 2014.
‘Absolutely love Formula One. I like the whole thing, it’s about entertainment, it’s the whole show,’ he added.
Carrick also spoke about his passion for F1 (he is pictured at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix)
Carrick will now be thrust into the spotlight after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s (left) sacking
Carrick has been on the training pitch this week, here with goalkeeper David de Gea
‘Just appreciating the skill levels of the team to build the car, to see the work they do on a weekend at a grand prix is incredible. The drivers – what they have to go through and the consistency and mindset.
‘It’s something I really appreciate… it’s so different from what I’m used to. It’s something I’m really in to.
‘To see them driving around Monaco so close to the barriers with one hand on the wheel, it’s sensational really.’
Such coolness under pressure was also a big part of Carrick’s game as a player, when he helped run United’s midfield during many of Sir Alex Ferguson’s glory years with a range of cunning passing rarely seen in an Englishman.
After the dreadful few weeks United have suffered, they need a dose of Carrick calm tonight, and certainly not any havoc at all.