Follow all the action as Manchester United travel to Villarreal in a crucial Champions League fixture tonight.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was finally sacked on Sunday, less than 24 hours after United’s dreadful 4-1 defeat at Watford, the club has been engulfed by uncertainty over who will take charge. Mauricio Pochettino continues to be linked with the permanent position, but it will be Michael Carrick who leads the team tonight as caretaker and, for all the disruption, United simply cannot afford another poor performance.
The club are currently tied with Villarreal at the top of Group F on seven points, and victory tonight will see Carrick’s interim reign begin with automatic qualification into the knockout stages. However, defeat could see Atalanta leapfrog United into second place with just one game remaining and heap yet more pressure on a beleaguered squad. “It’s like every game we go into,” Carrick said ahead of kick-off. “Whatever the recent form, whatever is happening around it, you’ve got to go into the game to try to win the game.” Follow all the action live below:
Villarreal vs Man Utd: United’s next manager search
Mauricio Pochettino is ready to leave PSG for Manchester United job before the summer as he does not want to miss another opportunity to join the English club.
Manchester United can appoint Mauricio Pochettino now if they act decisively, with the Paris Saint-Germain manager open to a move to Old Trafford that has been three years in the making.
He was initially prepared to succeed Jose Mourinho at the club before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s caretaker spell was made permanent and had talks with the hierarchy last October over replacing the underperforming Norwegian.
United have twice botched the opportunity to hire Pochettino, but The Independent understands that the 49-year-old does not want a third shot to be compromised by waiting until the summer.
Mauricio Pochettino ready to take Manchester United job before summer
United have twice botched the opportunity to hire Pochettino, but The Independent understands that the 49-year-old does not want a third shot to be compromised by waiting
Villarreal vs Man Utd: Carrick’s first game in charge
Michael Carrick takes charge of Manchester United for the first time this evening after he was named as caretaker boss whilst the club look for a permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Carrick spoke in the build-up about Villarreal and how this is a ‘big match for both clubs’ as well as what it is like to lead Manchester United, a role he calls ‘an honour’. Carrick said:
It’s a huge challenge and obviously one that I relish. It’s a lot more important for the club than for me but, for sure, the position I am in is a huge privilege, an honour and a huge responsibility.
“”Villarreal are a very good team. Very well organised and very well coached. They have a good mix, a good balance and we respect that.
“It’s a big game for both teams but it’s one we can really look forward to.”
Villarreal vs Man Utd: Qualification permutations
Manchester United are in a heap of trouble. They don’t have a manager, have lost their last three games and since beating Villarreal on 29th September – with a 95th minute winner from Cristiano Ronaldo – have won just two of their last eight matches.
But, that bad fortune can be turned around tonight.
United sit top of Group F, level on points with tonight’s opponents Villarreal. The Red Devils can qualify for the knockout stages of the competition this evening in one of two ways: The easiest is to simply beat Villarreal on their own turf with the other possibility slightly more complicated.
If Man Utd vs Villarreal ends in a draw and so does Atalanta vs Young Boys – the other Group F game played tonight – then United will also go through.
Defeat this evening though and their fate to qualify for the knockout stages is no longer in their hands.
Villarreal vs Man Utd: Early team news
Michael Carrick has a few injury problems to navigate as he prepares his first Manchester United starting XI since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked at the weekend.
Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane remain out and Luke Shaw appeared to sustain another concussion injury in their match against Watford which leaves him as a doubt.
Mason Greenwood has tested positive for Covid-19 and Edinson Cavani has a tendon problem but could be fit to return.
Contrastingly, only Gerard Moreno looks set to miss out for Villarreal as he deals with a hamstring injury.
Villarreal host Manchester United in Champions League
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as Manchester United travel to Villarreal in the Champions League group stage.
Chaos has reigned at United in the past few days, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally sacked after the club were thrashed 4-1 at Watford on Saturday. Despite the protracted uncertainty, there appears to be no succession plan in place at the club, with Michael Carrick acting as caretaker while United seek out a permanent replacement. Mauricio Pochettino appears to be the favoured candidate, however, it remains to be seen whether he can be prised from PSG before the end of the season.
Meanwhile, United cannot afford to lose focus on a crucial European fixture. They are currently top of the group and can advance to the knockout stages with a victory tonight. Defeat, though, will leave qualification out of United’s hands heading into the final round of group games.
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