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●● ch­ester sun­shine on the eve of the 50th an­niver­sary of their Eu­ro­pean Cup tri­umph, another mem­ber of their elite pan­theon brought clo­sure to his Old Traf­ford play­ing ca­reer. Cap­tain Car­rick, starter in three Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals and the only 2008 con­queror left on the play­ing staff, was ac­com­pa­nied by his chil­dren as he strode out onto the turf, where both sets of play­ers formed a guard of hon­our. Car­rick did not ex­pect that and seemed vis­i­bly ap­pre­cia­tive of the ges­ture ahead of his fi­nal United out­ing. He will be on the bench at Wem­b­ley, al­beit only in a coach­ing ca­pac­ity. Mour­inho may have to re­con­sider that.

The United boss made nine changes in a game where Alexis Sanchez and Ash­ley Young were the only starters guar­an­teed of lin­ing up at Wem­b­ley on Satur­day and Young was sub­sti­tuted first on the hour mark. Chris Smalling dropped out of the squad al­to­gether in what was an ob­vi­ous rest.

Avoid­ing in­jury was the pri­or­ity on an in­signif­i­cant af­ter­noon for United. Mat­teo Darmian and Da­ley Blind were in the shop window, while Eric Bailly earned an over­due start and was the best player on the pitch.

The only oc­ca­sion where Car­rick looked flus­tered was as An­der Her­rera pre­pared to emerge on the 77th minute. Da­ley Blind’s num­ber went up in­stead and the arm­band re­mained strapped to Car­rick’s bi­cep. Mour­inho had planned to with­draw him for one last ova­tion but his new coach­ing con­fi­dant de­rived more pleasure from play­ing on for a few more min­utes.

Sup­port­ers sang his song re­lent­lessly and the chant­ing be­came louder as Paul Pogba joined Mour­inho in the tech­ni­cal area. Then Car­rick’s num­ber ap­peared in the 84th minute. Some team­mates went out of their way to salute him but this was in­com­pa­ra­ble with John Terry’s nar­cis­sis­tic de­par­ture a year ago and Car­rick may have come off sooner had he not been halted by Rash­ford.

Pogba put his hands to­gether and Mour­inho hugged him.

Michael Car­rick is em­braced by Jose Mour­inho af­ter be­ing sub­sti­tuted

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