Manchester United qualified for the next round of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Villarreal on Tuesday night. Following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, interim manager Michael Carrick took charge of the game and the players performed well in the second half and earned a well deserved win.
Following the game, Carrick spoke of his happiness at how the team came together for the victory.
The result obviously is a major plus from the run we’ve gone on – we can’t hide that. To get that feeling of winning a football match for the players is huge, and to keep a clean sheet, David was important again so all round there’s a lot of positives to take.
The biggest [positive] I’ll take is how everyone adapted, the reaction and how they pulled together. In situations like this there’s mixed emotions. It’s a test of people and you find out who the real characters are, who’s there with you and who’s not. I thought everyone stuck together in terms of supporting me and my staff and we managed to get the win which is very pleasing. It was a big one.
With other Champions League groups still to be decided, there are some interesting slots for United to fit in to for the round of 16. Carrick may well not be in charge following the group stage but was pleased with how his team performed to secure progression in Spain.
The game panned out as I thought. When you’ve had the results we’ve had and gone through what we’ve gone through in the last few days, you’d be foolish to think you can come here, pick a team and it will be free-flowing football. They’re a good team, they make you work for it, they keep the ball off you and make you defend as well. We were well aware of that, we had the feeling it would be a tight game. It’s important who starts the game but it’s also important who finishes it and how you finish it.
Carrick was unsurprisingly humble at the final whistle. While he takes great pride in managing the team, he recognises the most important thing is the club doing well.
It’s not an important result for me personally, it’s an important result for the club. It’s important for these players. It’s not about me by any stretch of the imagination.
Villarreal boss Unai Emery was happy with his side’s performance too but recognised the two substitutes, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, made all the difference for the away team.
I think we were very good for about 60 or 70 minutes against a Manchester United who were the favourites in this group. We had chances, we were controlling the ball and we haven’t given them any kind of chances in these 70 minutes. But when they changed their players it gave them a boost and we were not playing the same way. They were speeding up and it has been a bit overwhelming for us.