Carrick delighted for Sancho as United prove 'character'
Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick was thrilled for Jadon Sancho after the winger ended his long wait for a goal in the win over Villarreal.
In their first match since the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils secured a 2-0 victory in Spain on Tuesday that sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock after Fred had applied pressure following a goal kick, and Sancho made certain of the win with an emphatic finish at the end of a flowing counter-attack in the 90th minute.
Sancho had previously gone 14 appearances and 10 shots without finding the net for United since his move from Borussia Dortmund in the transfer window.
The result meant Carrick became the first English manager to win his first game in charge of the club since Walter Crickmer back in 1931, and the former midfielder was delighted with the manner in which his players battled for victory.
"In some ways, it was the best way to win for me," he told BT Sport. "We had to show some character, we had to dig in, had to fight.
"The game looked at times like it was drifting away from us, after half-time, and we got back together again and the subs made a massive impact.
"That's all I could hope for: the boys gave everything.
"Fred's done fantastic. He won that ball back, which we want him to, we look for that. When Ronaldo gets that chance, he puts it away.
"To finish it off with Jadon was brilliant. I know how much Jadon loves the ball at his feet and trying to make things happen, it's where he's happiest, but I thought the other side of the game, he put in a real effort defensively when we needed it. It was a big night for him."
Villarreal enjoyed the better of the chances in the first hour and David de Gea had to make a handful of saves, including a brilliant one-handed stop to deny Manu Trigueros.
Carrick felt it was always likely his side would have to adopt a more cautious approach given the game was just three days on from the chastening 4-1 Premier League loss to Watford that spelled the end of Solskjaer's time in charge.
"We came here to win the game. I believed we would, I believed we were ready for it," Carrick said.
"It wasn't an easy game, by the way. It was a tough game, they're a good team, and for those who don't watch them that much and don't see it, they're a good team, they make you work.
"I thought the boys had to dig in at times and show a little bit of everything, so I was delighted with the way it ended up.
"Let's be honest: I don't think we could have come out and hoped to play pretty football from the word go. When you've suffered results-wise and you're not in a great vein of form individually and as a team, it's not easy to come out and let everything click."
It remains unclear how long Carrick will take charge of the first team, with United exploring interim appointments until the end of the season as well as longer-term targets that reportedly include Mauricio Pochettino.
Carrick was keen to pay tribute to Solskjaer after a troubled few days at Old Trafford.
"I have enjoyed it, I must admit. I enjoyed the whole thing. It's not been an easy couple of days at the club," he added.
"That result almost feels like it was for Ole. I can't get away from that. But we had a job to do, and when I was there, and things needed to be taken care of, I was happy to do it. Thankfully, it all went to plan in the end."