After another week of turmoil, Manchester United got a much-needed 2-0 win against Spanish side Villarreal last night to book their spot in the last 16 round of the Champions League.
The game marked Michael Carrick’s first in charge as interim boss following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure from the club after a dismal 4-1 defeat to Watford.
Before the match had even kicked off, Carrick triggered an immediate talking point by leaving Bruno Fernandes, arguably United’s best player since joining the club last year, out of his starting lineup.
Instead the 40-year-old opted for out-of-favour Dutchman Donny van de Beek, who scored his side’s only goal in the weekend’s defeat. Explaining his decision before the tie, the temporary boss suggested it was largely based on the amount of football Bruno had played, though did touch on the poor form of the squad as a whole.
“Not one of those [the squad] have been the best, there’s no hiding from that, we know that, but there’s a team to be picked,
“I love Bruno, he’s a fantastic player and a good person,” the 40-year-old told the press ahead of kick-off.
“He ran his socks off on Saturday, gave absolutely everything, he’s played a lot of games as well”
The Portuguese midfielder would make it on later in the game though, adding an assist to his tally for his part in Jadon Sancho’s sublime finish and first goal since joining on a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund.
Fernandes actually came close to setting up a third, after splitting the opposition’s backline with a sumptuous through-ball from inside his own half. His perfectly-measured pass seemed destined to set Marcus Rashford on his way, though the forward was unable to capitalise on the moment of brilliance.
United must now wait until Monday 13th December to discover their knockout stage fate. Ajax, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool and Cheslea are also already into the next round, with a further ten sides yet to be decided.
By then, we should have a clearer idea on who’ll be on managerial duties. Following Solskjaer’s departure, the club had suggested that an interim boss would take over Carrick for the remainder of the season before a permanent suitor was found. However, those plans could be scrapped given Mauricio Pochettino’s apparent openness to step in immediately.
Sancho SCREAMER seals it! Full reaction to Villarreal 0-2 Man Utd on The Football Terrace…