Michael Carrick: After the firing of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United are on their way to Spain to begin a new era.
When Manchester United takes on Villarreal in the Champions League on Tuesday, caretaker manager Michael Carrick will be in charge.
United’s participation in the knockout stages would be confirmed with a win, while two draws in Group F would also secure their place.
He will, however, be fully aware of their recent bad performances, having aided Solskjaer in his penultimate match, a humiliating 4-1 defeat away to relegation-threatened Watford on Saturday.
Following a sombre pre-match press conference on Monday, the former Red Devils player accompanied his squad to Manchester airport for their departure, which included superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Harry Maguire.
In addition to Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane’s absences, Carrick has decided not to risk Luke Shaw, who had a positive Covid-19 test.
“It was difficult for me to see Ole lose his job yesterday,” the caretaker United boss remarked. “You could tell [how much people appreciate him] by the level of emotion in the room.
“It was a sad day for me because it had been a pleasure working with him.”
“Football is football,” the 40-year-old continued, “and this is a typical day in terms of [the fact] we have a major game to prepare for.”
“It is an honor for me to now hold this position. I recognize the responsibility that comes with it, and the focus now is on shifting our perspectives and moving forward rapidly.
“It’s what this club excels at, and it’s what this club has done in the past.
“We’re really looking forward to tomorrow’s game and going in with a positive mindset and attitude.
“The boys will be prepared. We are eagerly anticipating the game’s arrival.”
Despite the fact that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his colleagues plan to hire an interim manager until the conclusion of the season, Carrick will continue to serve in the interim role until further notice.
The five-time Premier League winner, on the other hand, claims he is not considering a move away from Villarreal.
“In terms of what I understand,” Carrick confirmed, “my emphasis is picking the team for tomorrow night.”
“I’m really familiar with the club. It’s been a part of my life for a long time.
“I’m not sure if it’ll be one [game], two, or anything longer. That’s not anything I’m thinking about.”
He went on to say: “Tomorrow is a major game, and I’ll go about my business as usual.
“We’re optimistic. It’ll be a great football game, and we’ll be put to the test, but these are the nights to remember. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“I’m not going to reveal too much, but I’m pretty clear in my head about how we’re going to do it.”
Maguire, who was sent off against Watford, believes the playing staff is also to blame for the Red Devils’ poor form, which has seen them win just one of their previous seven Premier League games.
“We’ve been on a journey together, and it’s never nice to see someone lose their job,” United coach Sir Alex Ferguson said.
“The feeling in the room when he came in and spoke to us yesterday… Yes, I believe it was difficult to be in.
“It shows how much we want to achieve as a group of lads, and like you mentioned, the outcome on Saturday wasn’t good enough.
“Recently, the outcomes have not been satisfactory. It’s a results-driven industry, and Ole has sadly suffered the price.
“Obviously, we must have a significant share of the blame.”
Manchester United’s traveling squad
David de Gea, Dean Henderson, Tom Heaton, and Lee Grant* are the goalkeepers.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones*, Diogo Dalot, and Alex Telles are among the defenders.