In a symbolic changing of the guard for Manchester United, Michael Carrick faced the media for the first time as caretaker manager ahead of their Champions League meeting with Villarreal on Tuesday evening.
Carrick has taken charge at Old Trafford following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked after three years at the helm following United’s 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday. Their seventh loss of the season in all competitions, the result has left them eighth in the Premier League.
Solskjaer was relieved of his duties on Sunday morning, leaving Carrick, his assistant, to prepare the team for their trip to the Estadio de la Ceramica. In an emotional exit interview with MUTV, Solskjaer said: “I’m going to leave by the front door, because I think everyone knows I’ve given everything for this club.
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“This club means everything to me and together we’re a good match, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the results we needed and it’s time for me to step aside.”
Speaking in his first press conference at Carrington, Carrick paid tribute to his former team-mate. “To see Ole lose his job yesterday was tough for me,” he said.
“You could tell from the emotion around the place [how much people respect him]. It was a pleasure working with him, so it was a sad day for me.”
Asked how long he could stay on as caretaker, Carrick was noncommittal. “In terms of what I understand, my mindset is picking the team for tomorrow night,” he said. “I know the club really well. It’s been my life for a long time now. Whether it’s one [game], two or longer than that, I’m not too sure. That’s not on my mind.
“It’s a big game tomorrow and I’ll go about the job as I do. We’re positive. It’s a fantastic game of football and we’ll be tested, but these are the nights to remember. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m not giving too much away, but I’m very clear in my own mind about how we’re going to go about it.”
Harry Maguire joined Carrick in his capacity as United captain, echoing his sentiments on Solskjaer’s sacking. “Well, like Michael’s said, I think it’s been a very hard time for us as players as well because of the amount of respect we have for the boss,” he added.
“We’ve been on a journey together. It’s never nice to see someone lose their job. For him to come in and speak to us yesterday, the emotion around the place… I think yeah, it was difficult to be in.
“All the lads, it shows as a group of lads, how much we want to succeed and, like you said, the result on Saturday, it wasn’t good enough.
“The results recently haven’t been good enough. It’s a results business and, unfortunately, Ole has paid the price for that. Obviously, we’ve got to take a big responsibility for that as well.”
Maguire also gave an insight into Solskjaer’s final meeting with the team, with the six-time Premier League winner bidding farewell to players and staff at Carrington on Sunday. “The manager’s come in and he spoke to us... it was an emotional day and everyone’s got a huge amount of respect for Ole and what he’s done for the club,” he said.
He’s a legend of the club and he will remain a legend for the club. I don’t want to go into too much depth about what he said but he wished us well.
“He said he’d be supporting us, he said we needed to get back on track, get focused for the game against Villarreal now and make sure we go into it with a positive mindset.
“One thing he did say was that he’d be supporting us and wanting us to win every game of football, which shows the value of the man.”
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