Belfast Telegraph

Smalling pleased ‘figurehead’ Carrick is taking on Old Trafford coaching role

Carrick will continue to play a role at the club by taking up Jose Mourinho’s offer to join the Old Trafford coaching staff.

Chris Smalling is glad that Michael Carrick is staying at Manchester United, with the switch from captain to coach meaning their “figurehead” and “standout leader” remains in the dressing room.

The 36-year-old skipper confirmed in March that he would be calling time on his long, medal-laden playing career at the end of the season.

However, Carrick will continue to play a role at the club he joined from Tottenham in 2006 by taking up Jose Mourinho’s offer to join the Old Trafford coaching staff.

The United skipper has already spent time on the bench in a purely coaching capacity and was praised for his half-time influence as Manchester United roared back to win 3-2 at Manchester City.

“He is (having an impact),” United team-mate Smalling told Press Association Sport.

“Obviously, it was not too dissimilar to what Ryan Giggs did, but with Michael I think it doesn’t feel too weird that he’s going into the coaching because he is such our figurehead of the team.

“I mean, our team is getting younger and younger, but Michael is the standout leader of our team.

“So, to see him stay with us and go into the coaching I think feels quite nice for all of us players, that there is a familiar face going into the coaching and someone we already looked up to massively anyway.”

Carrick is the last remaining member of the United side that won the Champions League a decade ago, meaning former non-league defender Smalling will become the second-longest serving first-team player after Antonio Valencia.

“I didn’t think about it like that,” he said with a smile. “I think time just flies so quickly.

“I think you just need to enjoy every moment and I’ll keep enjoying every game because it’s always a privilege to get another appearance.”

Smalling is hoping to represent United again in Saturday’s mouth-watering FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham, having impressed in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Bournemouth.

The 28-year-old netted the opener on the south coast not long after scoring the winner in the Manchester derby, yet once again the defender is subject of speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford.

That background noise compounds talk about his World Cup chances after being left out of the previous two England squads, yet Smalling seems unfazed by it all.

“More often than not we’re playing every two or three days and pretty much all your focus is just put on training, put on games and listening to what the manager (says) and what he wants you to do,” he said.

“Obviously you can’t get away from certain noise, but it’s a case of I am so focused on the pitch that I just want to keep putting on performances and keep building that manager’s trust in me to play me every game.”

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