Jose Mourinho will go without an assistant manager next season but expects retiring Manchester United captain Michael Carrick to grow into the role.
Mourinho handed Carrick his 464th and final appearance in the 1-0 victory over Watford and the midfielder was given both a pre-match guard of honour and a standing ovation as he left the pitch at Old Trafford.
He will join the backroom team in the summer but not, for now at least, as a like-for-like heir to Rui Faria.
Mourinho has decided he cannot adequately replace his right-hand man of the past 17 years and will instead redesign his staff with no official deputy.
It is clear, though, that the seat is being kept warm for the five-time title-winner. I think it will be Michael Carrick in the future,” he said.
“When he has his badges, when he has his pro licence, when he makes the bridge from player to assistant.
“I don’t think it (an immediate appointment) makes sense when Rui is leaving after 17 years. I have nobody in the world of football ready to be assistant manager. Nobody.”
📆 26/08/2006@Carras16 makes his first @PremierLeague start for #MUFC in a win against Watford...— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 13, 2018
📆 13/05/2018@Carras16 makes his final @PremierLeague start for #MUFC in a win against Watford! pic.twitter.com/F3MswLYBcO
Explaining his vision for next term, the Portuguese said: “Moving forward I will organise my coaching staff in a way where the assistant manager figure doesn’t exist.
“I’m going to have coaches, assistant coaches, I’m going to have fitness coaches and a structure where they have specialists in different areas. My Analysts.
“I’m going to bring some people in that until this moment you (the press) didn’t come up with the name yet.”
Carrick was full of praise for Mourinho, and said: “I need to thank Jose for giving me the opportunity. It is an unbelievable opportunity for me. I look forward to working with him and learning from him.
“He’s one of the best. He’ll teach me some things and we’re going to have some success in the near future, I’m certain of that.”
Addressing the fans, Carrick added: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone for their support over the years, it’s been unbelievable.
“I have a lot of memories to cherish, some I’ll never forget, especially of this place. It’s an amazing place to play football. It’s the greatest club in the world and I thank you for your support over the last 12 years.”
While Carrick might be hanging up his boots, his United team-mates still have the FA Cup final against Chelsea to prepare for.
Mourinho made nine changes to the side which beat the Hornets thanks to a Marcus Rashford tap-in made by Carrick’s long pass and laid on by Juan Mata’s selflessness.
Yet there was no Anthony Martial in the squad, despite Mourinho’s prior indication the Frenchman would start.
Reports emerged that he had been seen driving away from the stadium in the hours before kick-off but Mourinho revealed a knee injury had kept him out.
“He’s injured,” he said. “Injured Friday in a training session, yesterday couldn’t train. He had treatment in the morning in the training ground and stayed away.”
Jose on @AnthonyMartial: "He was injured on Friday and couldnât train yesterday. He had treatment in the morning at the training ground and then stayed away. Itâs his left knee." #MUFC pic.twitter.com/vEudAHX3Vn— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 13, 2018
Mourinho confirmed striker Romelu Lukaku would return to training on Tuesday following ankle trouble, good news for the cup final, but was less certain about Martial’s situation.
“We are waiting for the doctor,” he told MUTV. “But if it’s impossible to play today, I have my doubts.”
Watford boss Javi Gracia only arrived in January but faces an uncertain future at a club who have become known for their hire-and-fire policy.
Asked if he would be at Vicarage Road next season he was upbeat.
“Yes, I think so,” was his brief assessment. “I’ve already spoken many times with the owner, I can feel he is ambitious and he is looking forward for next season.
“I’m sure the owner will try to improve the level of the squad and the team, try to improve the position in the table.”