9:05 AM ET
Michael Carrick has said he doesn’t know how long he will be in charge of Manchester United as he prepares the team for the first game since the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Carrick will lead the team against Villarreal in the Champions League on Tuesday night just 72 hours after being informed by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that he would be taking over from Solskjaer in the wake of Saturday’s disastrous 4-1 defeat to Watford.
The former midfielder has been placed in temporary charge while United hunt for an interim manager to step in until the end of the season before a permanent appointment can be made in the summer, but Carrick said he has not been told how long that process might take.
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“I’m prepared to do it for however long it takes, whether it’s one game, two games,” Carrick told a news conference on Monday. “Right now I’m not sure, but I’m not thinking about that, it’s about Villarreal.
“I found out yesterday morning at the training ground. I didn’t know anything before that point. I arrived and spoke to Ed.
“It was a bit rushed to then organise training and the day’s work. Everyone adapted, reacted and dealt with it in a real classy manner.”
Speaking to the media for the first time since taking the job, Carrick began his news conference with a prepared speech during which he said Sunday at the training ground had been “emotional” when Solskjaer addressed his players and coaches for the final time.
“To see Ole lose his job was tough for me,” Carrick said. “You could tell by the emotion around the place what he meant to everyone. Sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve. It was a sad day.
“I know in my own mind what I could have done better. It is important that everyone looks at themselves. It is easy to look elsewhere. That’s what I was like as a player.
“I have worked with Ole for a long time now. We do have similar beliefs. Of course, I have my own personality. I’m not giving away too much but I have my own ideas about how we will play. It’s a challenge, it’s a limited time, but I relish it.”
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Carrick was joined at the news conference by Harry Maguire, who said the players have to take “responsibility” for the run of seven defeats from 13 games which has cost Solskjaer his job.
Maguire is available for the trip to Spain before serving his suspension for his red card at Watford when United face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“The players need to take responsibility for everything, we’re the ones that cross over the white line,” Maguire said. “We know it’s football, we were in it together, we were a group, the manager and the players.
“The manager has paid the price, we’re all so disappointed for that, but we take huge responsibility, we know we haven’t been good enough, we spoke about that.
“Now we look forward and try to get the club back to where it should be. The last few months have been nowhere near good enough.”
Villarreal coach Unai Emery is expecting a reaction from United following Solskjaer’s dismissal but believes the team fielded by Carrick will not differ significantly from the one picked by the Norwegian at Watford on Saturday.
United are top of Group F on goal difference with two games to play, level on seven points with Villarreal.
“As a coach, you don’t welcome the news that a colleague has lost his job,” Emery said.
“I have a lot of respect for Solskjaer because of his playing and coaching career. I’ve faced Solskjaer several times and above all, I value him as a great person.
“When there’s a coaching change, there’s a reaction one way or another. The focus will be more on the players than on the bench. The players know, even though they are professional and must always deliver, that they have to show their faces for Manchester [United].
“I expect a very good Manchester United because of their players and the significance of this game. They need to win and I don’t think there will be many changes.”