Michael Carrick dedicated victory over Villarreal to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he guided Manchester United into the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Carrick’s first victory as caretaker boss since replacing Solskjaer on Sunday saw him become the first Englishman to win his opening game as United boss for 90 years.
Jadon Sancho also scored for the first time since his £73million move to Old Trafford in the summer to clinch United’s first Champions League win away from home in a year.
Michael Carrick dedicated Manchester United’s win over Villarreal to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
‘It’s not been an easy couple of days for everyone at the club,’ said Carrick. ‘I can enjoy it so much but still, that result feels like it’s for Ole, I can’t get away from that.
‘It’s not an important result for me, it’s for the club and the players. Tonight isn’t about me by any stretch.
‘It’s been an emotional few days. The first person I spoke to when it all happened and Ed (Woodward) asked me to do the role was Ole to see what he thought about it.
Carrick (right) is now United’s caretaker boss after Solskjaer (left) was sacked at the weekend
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) and Jadon Sancho (left) scored the goals in the hard-fought victory
‘I have a responsibility to be here and manage the team and I take great pride in that.
‘We had a job to do without dwelling on it, things needed to be taken care of, and thankfully it all went to plan in the end.’
Carrick made bold call to drop Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford for Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial. He reversed the switch in the second half and saw United score twice through Cristiano Ronaldo and Sancho.
The 2-0 win means that United are guaranteed of qualifying from Group F with one game left to play at home to Young Boys.
Sancho’s late goal, which crashed in off the crossbar, was his first goal for United since joining
‘I had a feeling it would be a tight game,’ added Carrick. ‘I said before the game it’s important who starts it, but it’s just as important how you finish it.
‘That was the balancing act going through the minds of me and my staff, and in the end it kind of came through.
‘The game panned out as I thought. When you’ve had the results we’ve had and gone through what we have, it would be very foolish to think it would be free-flowing and everything would be wonderful.
‘We came here to win the game. I believed we would, we were ready for it tonight, and that proved to be the case.
Carrick (R) admitted that the start of his temporary reign at Old Trafford has been ’emotional’
‘In some ways it was the best way to win as a team. We had to show some character, dig in and fight.’
On Sancho’s first goal for the club, Carrick said: ‘It will give Jadon a massive boost. The most pleasing for me was the effort and application he put in off the ball. At times he didn’t see a lot of the ball but he was doing a job.’
The United caretaker also paid tribute to Ronaldo after he scored his sixth goal in the Champions League this season.
‘There’s not much more I can really say about Cristiano,’ added Carrick. ‘It’s what he does in the big games and big moments. When you need something, he’s there to deliver.’