United end in less than style

Premier League
Manchester United 1 Watford 0
MANCHESTER United captain Michael Carrick signed off in style as he bade farewell after 12 years in red.

The midfielder, who will join United manager Jose Mourinho's coaching staff following his retirement, was the catalyst for the team's solitary first-half goal in a less-than-emphatic win against Watford.

The 36-year-old, who won five Premier League titles, a Champions League, a Europa League, an FA Cup and three League Cups during his United career, rolled back the years with a sumptuous pass to Juan Mata on the edge of the box who, in turn, squared the ball for Marcus Rashford to hit it beyond Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Carrick, a 14 million signing from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2006, received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful when he was substituted in the 84th minute - as Mourinho had promised so he could receive a fitting farewell.

Both United and Watford had formed a guard of honour at the beginning of the game for Carrick, who walked out with his two children.

United may have finished the season on 81 points, but the final three games of the season saw them take only four points out of a possible nine as they finished runners-up to champions Manchester City - 19 points behind their cross town rivals.

But it was their best final league position since Sir Alex Ferguson retired five years ago.

Mourinho made nine changes from Thursday's dour goalless draw at West Ham United, with Scott McTominay and Alexis Sanchez the only survivors.

And only the Chilean forward, together with left-back Ashley Young, are likely to start Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea.

Watford, who made three changes from their 1-0 win at Newcastle United last weekend, gave Gomes his first start since January.

But they suffered a defensive blow in the 20th minute when centre-half Christian Kabasele was forced off after injuring himself after falling awkwardly into the advertising hoardings while chasing a ball with Sanchez.

United didn't register a shot on goal until the half-hour mark when Marcos Rojo launched a thunderbolt, but the ball went wide of Gomes' post.

They took the lead four minutes later thanks to Rashford, who was staking his claim for a cup final place, with doubts over regular striker Romelu Lukaku's fitness.

Watford sprang into life as the clock ticked down to half-time.

Daryl Janmaat sent in a cross for Richarlison's and the Brazilian's header drew a save from United goalkeeper Sergio Romero of which regular number one David De Ge would have been proud.

And the Argentine easily caught Gerard Deulofeu's shot from the edge of the box.

If the first-half provided little in the form of quality, the following 45 minutes were even more evident of a dead rubber game, with Watford, who have never won at United in the top flight, safe from relegation in 14th place.

Their manager, Javi Gracia, was only appointed in January to succeed Marcos Silva, but already his position is the subject of speculation, with Watford reportedly looking to name their sixth boss in just four years.

Their first real chance didn't come until the 70th minute when Will Hughes put Andre Gray through, only for the striker to find himself offside.

Then substitute Troy Deeney set up Roberto Pererya, but the Argentine's effort was blocked by Rojo in the box.

Watford had another opportunity to equalise in the 84th minute.

Dutch full-back Janmaat was again the provider, crossing for Richarlison, but the gangly forward hit the ball wide.

There were no more chances for either side, as the game petered out - and United will have to totally up the ante for the FA Cup final, although Mourinho has a habit of winning the bigger matches..

His assistant manager of 17 years, Rui Faria, announced on Saturday that he would be leaving the club.

And Mourinho confirmed that Carrick could be his future number two - once the retiring midfielder gains his coaching badges and his UEFA Pro Licence.

He said: "My coaching staff will be reorganised (in the summer) so that the title of assistant manager will not exist.

"I think, in the future, it will be Carrick, but he has to get his badges and gain experience first.

"I got Michael in the last period of his career and it was difficult for him to play in successive matches.

"He has been so important to us in so many aspects and is a fantastic player.

"I am sad because it is the end of his career as a player, but he will stay with us."

The Portuguese also confirmed that forward Anthony Martial, whom he said would start this game, was injured in training on Friday.

Mourinho also denied social media rumours that the Frenchman had driven away from Old Trafford after being told he was not in the match day squad and said he was unsure as to whether Martial will be fit for the FA Cup final.

Gracia said: "I arrived at the club in a difficult moment, when we had one win in 10 games and a lot of the players were injured.

"I think we have done a good job and we have achieved our target of staying up, although I would have liked to have improved our position in the table."

The Spaniard also confirmed that he was confident he would still be in charge at Vicarage Road next season.

Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Bailly, Rojo, Blind (Herrera, 76); Carrick (Pogba, 84), McTominay, Young (Shaw, 59) Mata, Sanchez; Rashford.
Substitutes not used: Pereira, Valencia, Jones and Lingard.

Watford: Gomes; Janmaat, Kabasele (Mariappa, 20), Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Pererya; Deulofeu (Deeney, 62), Hughes, Richarlison; Gray (Chalobah, 71).
Substitutes not used: Bachmann, Prodl, Sinclair and Lukebakio.

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