Manchester United’s captain, Harry Maguire, has insisted the players must share a “big responsibility” for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s sacking following a dreadful run of results, and admitted the Norwegian’s departure had been an emotional experience for the squad.
United face Villarreal on Tuesday in a crucial Champions League game in which Michael Carrick will take charge for the first time, with Solskjær’s former assistant placed in temporary charge while an interim manager is chosen. The former England midfielder said he was prepared to lead the side “as long as the club want me”. Maguire acknowledged that a run of four defeats from their past five league games had ultimately cost Solskjær his job.
“It has been a very hard time as players. The amount of respect we had for the boss – we’ve been on a journey together,” said Maguire, who was sent off in the defeat at Watford that left United eighth in the Premier League. “The players need to take a big responsibility. Ultimately the manager has paid the price, we’re all so disappointed by that. We know we haven’t been good enough. We’ve spoken about that. The lads want to succeed.
“It hasn’t been good enough, not delivering individually or collectively. It snowballed from one thing to another. We have to find something within ourselves to find that focus and mentality. The manager came in and spoke to us [yesterday], it was an emotional day. He was a legend, he’ll remain one.”
Carrick worked with Solskjær for three years after initially joining José Mourinho’s staff following his retirement as a player in 2017. But with United knowing that a victory against Villarreal could all but seal their place in the last 16 despite an indifferent campaign, he is now focused on trying to revive their season.
“It’s not the time to look back now, I know what I could have done in my own mind better,” said Carrick. “It’s easy to look elsewhere, as a player I was exactly the same. For me what’s next is a flight to Spain and preparing for Villarreal. All I’ve been thinking about is the game. We have a big game on the weekend [against Chelsea] but we will address that whenever we need to. As long as the club want me I will give my best.”