Sunday, 13 May 2018

Match preview: United v Watford

With nothing but pride to play for on the final day of the Premier League season, attentions turn to a fitting farewell for United legend Michael Carrick, in his final match before retirement.
After 12 years of loyal, brilliant and trophy-laden service, Carrick will captain the rotated Reds and is set to be substituted before the end of his 464th and final United tie to allow the Old Trafford crowd to pay homage to a player who will be fondly remembered as a criminally under-rated and understated stalwart of the club, a player who became the string-pulling heartbeat of our last great side, the 2008 Premier League and Champions League double winners. This is also United's 1,000th Premier League game in our history - only five other teams (Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Spurs) will have reached that landmark.

With Rui Faria - Jose's long-time assistant - to leave United, his departure casts a new light on Carrick's position on the coaching staff next season: he could now be set for an earlier than expected promotion to Mourinho's number two right hand man, with the club keen on a former player to eventually take the top job.
Carras, winner of 18 major honours during his time with us, will skipper a much-changed United side, with second place secured and the FA Cup final clash with Chelsea looming large on the horizon. Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are all set to play, but Belgian duo Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku are both injured, with United hopeful the latter will be fit enough to feature in next week's final.
Javi Gracia's Hornets - sat safely in mid-table after an indifferent campaign - will be without six players for their season-ending trip to Old Trafford. Former Red Tom Cleverley is sidelined with a hamstring injury, with Younes Kaboul (metartarsal), Tommie Hoban and Nathaniel Chalobah (knee), and forwards Stefano Okaka (thigh) and Andre Carrillo (groin) all ruled out.

Second in the table will never be deemed a success by Jose or the club as a collective, but it represents our best finish since 2013 with the team currently 12 points better off than at the corresponding stage last season. 

On Carrick, Jose said: "He's going to start the match as the captain and he's not going to end the match because I want him the pitch alone and I want him to feel what the United supporters feel in relation to him.
"He is going to be even closer to me than he was as a player so it is just an emotional moment because it is the last match of a fantastic career for a fantastic player.
On the season, the boss added: "I'm happy because second place is the highest position that we had available since October or November, if we cannot be first we can be professional and finish in the next best position, we can jump to more than 80 points if we beat Watford - in the top two domestic competitions in this country, we are at least second best. It is not enough to celebrate - not for me - but we did our job the best we could and the boys can now think they have done a positive thing."

With Champions League football already in the bag and second place assured, the focus for the team is building confidence and momentum ahead of the cup final next Saturday. COYR!

Form guide: United L W W W L D Watford D L L D L W
Match odds: United 4/9 Draw 18/5 Watford 11/2
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)


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