Interim manager Michael Carrick has begun his Manchester United tenure the same way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did – in blistering fashion.
Manchester United have now booked their place in the UEFA Champions League last 16 by beating Villarreal in Spain by two goals to none, despite not looking like they would.
Jadon Sancho finally opened his Manchester United account with a fine strike that clipped the underside of Gerónimo Rulli’s crossbar before going in. This was after Mr Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo, had opened the scoring by capitalising on a defensive error to chip Rulli in the Villarreal goal.
The game was the perfect response to the disgraceful loss over the weekend at Vicarage Road to a struggling Watford team in the Premier League, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A game to remember for rookie manager Michael Carrick
While the job may be a caretaker role for the 40-year-old Englishman, this is Michael Carrick’s first foray into management. The former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder retired in 2018 after a title-filled 12 years with Manchester United.
He has since been part of the coaching staff at the club, and now, he’s a manager with Champions League experience under his belt. His role, however, is a thankless one as he admitted after the game.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Carrick said: “It’s not an important result for me personally; it’s an important result for the club, it’s an important result for the players.
“It’s been an emotional few days. The first person I spoke to when all of this happened was Ole, to see what he thought about it because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I have a responsibility to be here, to manage the team, and I take great pride in that.
“But it wasn’t about me, it was about getting through. When you gt to this stage of the Champions League, it could swing so easy both ways. So it was vital that we came in and got the right result.”
A game to remember for Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho arrived at Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in a big-money move over the summer after over two years of being one of the Red Devils’ primary transfer targets.
The Manchester City academy product has shown flashes of his brilliance in a few games but has struggled to make any kind of impact at Old Trafford as he used to week in, week out with Dortmund.
He, however, produced one of his best performances in the United jersey at El Madrigal and got a goal to boot, which will boost his confidence a lot more.
“I was so pleased for Jadon,” Carrick told Manchester United media. “I thought he worked his socks off tonight, I thought he gave everything tonight.
“At times, it wasn’t always with the ball and I know how much he enjoys the ball at his feet and trying to make things happen. He showed a different side tonight and, to get his goal at the end, pretty much capped it off perfectly for him and for us.”
Jadon Sancho has been a fan favourite even when he was not performing as expected, but he’s sure to feel the love a lot more as fans showered his game against Villarreal with praises.
There’s surely more where that came from and Manchester United fans can look forward to improved performances from the 21-year-old.