Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Michael Carrick’s first act as Man Utd boss tipped to see star hauled out of line-up

Jonny Whitfield
Michael Carrick Man Utd interim manager

Michael Carrick’s first task as Manchester United boss should be to pull Harry Maguire from the starting line-up, according to Rio Ferdinand.

The England international has largely proved a solid signing for United since his move from Leicester. In fact, not long after, recently-sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave him the captain’s armband.

While Maguire has also had moments to forget, those have happened more frequently this season.

Indeed, he received two yellow cards and a subsequent red in seven minutes in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Watford.

Some pundits have pointed out that Maguire looks unfit. Meanwhile, reports have concurrently claimed that Solskjaer brought him back after injury 10 days before he was ready.

The drop-off in form comes after the 28-year-old played a starring role for England at Euro 2020. According to Ferdinand, one of Carrick’s top priorities should be to give Maguire a rest.

In that regard, the pundit agrees with his former Man Utd team-mate Gary Neville.

“Harry wouldn’t like to hear this but I just think sometimes you need to be taken out of the firing line,” Ferdinand told Vibe with Five.

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“He’s had a long summer, a successful summer with England to a certain degree. He’s played a lot of football, comes back to United and physically and mentally it looks like there’s a hangover there.

“He won’t take himself out of it, I wouldn’t either, I’d try and play myself through it, but at the moment his performances haven’t been up to the level required, for him, for Man United. The bar he set himself wouldn’t be there.

“I saw Gary Neville speak about it the other day that he was having a nightmare after three or four summers on the bounce playing football for England and Man United and needed time off.

“I think Harry Maguire is probably at that point right now.”

As for who could come in for Maguire, Eric Bailly could slot in alongside Victor Lindelof. Raphael Varane is the obvious choice to step in, but he is recovering from injury.

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However, the bigger task will be finding a long-term manager to take United forward again. Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino are in the frame while Carrick takes the interim role.

Solskjaer said of his time in charge, which itself began on an interim basis in December 2018: “You know what this club means to me and what I wanted to achieve here.

“For the club, for the fans, for the players, for the staff. I wanted us to take the next step to challenge for the league, to win trophies and I only think it’s right that it comes from the horse’s mouth.

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“I don’t want to answer all… there’s going to be journalists asking me about interviews but no, I’m not going to do any interviews.”

United have little time for the dust to settle following Solskjaer’s exit, though. They face Villarreal away in the Champions League on Tuesday.