Match Report

End of season games always bring a sense of the atmosphere of a post season friendly, a chance almost to say goodbye to departing players as they move onto brighter adventures in the future.

Usually that ideal is seen when footballers further their careers at other clubs but at Old Trafford the man leaving was also one staying at Manchester United, just in a different capacity.

When Sir Alex Ferguson signed Michael Carrick all the way back in 2006 it was a shot out of the blue, an addition unlikely to usurp Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher, but the former West Ham youth product quickly established himself and never looked back.

He is one of few players in English football to have won every single major honour available, having first won the Premier League in 2007 to completing the set with the Europa League in 2016.

In that period Carrick became irreplaceable, irresistible and quite frankly irrefutable. As a sign of calmness he personified the simple game in midfield, his teammates looking for his support on the pitch on the pitch when they found themselves in trouble.

It was perhaps fitting that in his 464th game for the Red Devils that was for all to see again as the Englishman’s looping aerial ball found the deft touch of an alert to Juan Mata, whose lay off to Marcus Rashford resulted in the first and only goal of the game.

No change throughout his career. Carrick, ever since he stepped onto the steps of the Carrington training ground for the first game, provided a place of sanctuary for anyone who needed it.

That wasn’t just on the field. While his skills were appreciated as a player it was humbleness of selfishness which fans appreciated, evident by the standing ovation he received when Jose Mourinho brought Paul Pogba on as his replacement against Watford.

For all 75,000 inside Old Trafford there was the appreciation for a man who many believe is a future replacement after Mourinho, much to the extent that Manchester City supporters believe that Mikel Arteta will take over from Pep Guardiola at The Etihad in the future.

That’s what it’s about now for United. The future. We saw glimpses of it in the final game of the season, from Eric Bailly’s masterful performance at the back to Rashford’s tap-in.

Yet the likes of Daley Blind and even Sergio Romero, after his stunning save, could depart in a quest to find first team opportunities abroad.

One man will stay though. For how long? The chances are probably for quite a while.