Michael Carrick explains why he ‘needed’ to leave Manchester United

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Michael Carrick says he felt “too comfortable” at Manchester United and wanted to move on to seek a new challenge, although has underlined the deep affection he still has for the club.

After losing his opening match, the Middlesbrough boss is on a four-game unbeaten streak at the Riverside with three of those being wins. He got his first taste of management at Old Trafford where he was put in charge as caretaker boss after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking.

He remained unbeaten in his three games, holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw and earning wins over Arsenal and Villarreal in the Champions League. He left United when Ralf Rangnick was brought in, stepping down from his role of first-team coach.

Speaking to TeessideLive, Carrick – who had trials at Middlesbrough aged nine – explained why he felt compelled to leave the Reds upon the arrival of the German. “I think it was needed, to be honest,” he said.

“Manchester United was my life and had been for some time. I respect the club greatly and love the place. I have friends there and my son plays there still.

“So I won’t ever lose that affinity. I was at the away game two weeks ago with my son. That was a huge part of my life and that is football. You get attached to certain football clubs.”

He added: “When I’m in somewhere, I’m all in. But I got comfortable in that role at United and you’ve got to come out of that comfort zone sometimes to test yourself and make your own way. That’s why I’m here [at Middlesbrough].

“This is where I started all those years ago, so there is kind of a feeling of real belonging here – and I don’t say that as a throwaway line, that’s how it feels. I’ve felt really at home in these last few days.”

Carrick ’s short stint as caretaker boss at United was viewed warmly by supporters and the former midfielder – who played 481 times for the Reds, winning five Premier Leagues and a Champions League – said he learned a lot from the spell in the dugout.

“I think the biggest thing is that I felt comfortable in the role, ultimately,” he explained. “Having that responsibility felt comfortable. Sometimes you don’t know how you’re going to feel but it just felt like a natural fit for me.

“Everyone was saying it must have been quite stressful but, actually, I always felt quite calm. So that was a real positive for me.

“I’m not getting carried away though. I know it was only three games and the situation I was in is a different responsibility to the one I am coming into now.

“But at the same time, it gave me the confidence in knowing that I am ready. With the team around me at this club, I feel really positive about what’s ahead.”

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