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Michael Carrick's winning debut sees Manchester United advance to Champions League last 16

Manchester United are through to the Champions League last 16 after beating Villarreal
Manchester United are through to the Champions League last 16 after beating Villarreal
ANALYST

A few days can change a lot of things in football. Manchester United fans across the world were reeling after a damaging 4-1 loss to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

However, the mood around the club has had a huge uplift in the wake of an impressive 2-0 victory over Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League.

The Red Devils needed such a result after their disastrous run of form in recent weeks and they stepped up when it mattered. The performance certainly wasn’t flawless, but returning to winning ways was all that mattered.

For a caretaker manager like Michael Carrick, this result will go a long way to boosting the morale in a dressing room that has been dispirited for some time now.

Carrick makes winning start as caretaker manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking remains fresh in the minds of many Manchester United fans, some of whom kept chanting his name at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

However, once the game started, they backed Carrick fully. The former Reds midfielder has been tasked with keeping the ship steady before an interim manager is employed, but he cannot afford to slack.

Carrick may not be as experienced as Solskjaer, but he showed courage by making some big decisions. Benching Bruno Fernandes may have been a tactical decision, but it also affirmed the fact that the 40-year-old is not afraid to do what is necessary.

His decision to keep Sancho on also paid off as the former Borussia Dortmund star and Cristiano Ronaldo scored to seal a 2-0 win on the road. A winning start to Carrick’s tenure calms the pressure on the team and maybe they can go on an incredible run after such a crucial win.

Carrick also shares special praise for @Fred08Oficial's part in our first goal 👏#MUFC | #UCL

Reds book last 16 place

Manchester United were tipped by many to top Group F of the Champions League when the draw was made. However, some were forced to revise their notes when the competition kicked off.

Defeat to Young Boys in their opening group game certainly cast doubt over the Reds’ status in the group, but they’ve managed to turn things around superbly.

Tuesday’s win over Villarreal saw Manchester United move to 10 points in the group, guaranteeing them top spot and a place in the Round of 16.

"I said to the players it's not been an easy couple of days for everyone at the club, I can enjoy it so much but that result feels like it's for Ole and I can't get away from that," said Carrick in his post-game press conference, as quoted by Goal.
"We had a job to do and when I was there and things needed to be taken care of I was happy to do it and thankfully it all want to plan at the end."

A bigger test awaits on Sunday when Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge to face high-flying Chelsea. However, Carrick and his side can feel confident ahead of the game after beating Villarreal and keeping a clean sheet.


Edited by Arjun Panchadar
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