Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ashton Gate, Bristol. Picture date: Monday April 10, 2023.

Michael Carrick the manager: ‘The way he thinks makes him stand out’

Michael Carrick’s reading of the game as a holding midfielder at Manchester United was legendary. That appears to have stood him in good stead in his fledgeling managerial career at Middlesbrough.

The 41-year-old has been in charge of Boro for less than a season but he’s quickly established a reputation as one of the most promising young coaches in the country. Having replaced Chris Wilder last November, he’s had a transformative effect at the Riverside – taking them from relegation-battlers to very strong candidates to win the play-offs.

Here are 10 quotes on Carrick the manager.

Michael Carrick

“Spaces to attack is really my main focus when watching the games,” the man himself told the FA back in 2020 when discussing his coaching philosophy.

“Whether that’s looking at: how to attack when the goalkeeper has the ball, where the space is and how we can build-up through the pitch.

“It’s also about having an idea of how we can hurt the opposition from all areas of the pitch. That’s my first thought, really. My instinct takes me to that.

“Within that, there is observing the general game: how the opposition set up and what their strengths are.”

Jose Mourinho

“He has qualities that we believe can make him a good coach, and there are many ways to make a bridge,” Mourinho said while he was still in charge of Manchester United in 2018 when Carrick retired as a player and became an assistant coach.

“Some guys prefer to study, go to youth football, but in this situation, we decided the bridge can be the bridge – change shirts, dressing rooms and offices and start to be an assistant.

“I give them very good conditions for their evaluation and I think Michael can be very positive for us.”


“He has helped me a lot in this process of adaptation and transition,” the Manchester United midfielder told Brazilian outlet Trivela in April 2020.

“He’s a guy who was an idol at the club and was a great player in the same position that I play. On a daily basis, he helps me a lot, always talking to me. After training we always do a little work to complement it, sometimes finishing, sometimes passing.

“[Carrick is] a guy who understands the game, who lived it, and it’s impossible for there to be anyone better than him to help me. He knows about the difficulties, the shortcuts, and he tries to show me everything there is in training and in games.”

Caolan Boyd-Munce

“Everyone was a wee bit starstruck when he arrived for that first meeting,” the former Boro midfielder admitted. “It was like, ‘wow, that’s Michael Carrick standing there!’ But honestly, he’s been brilliant,” the midfielder told Teesside Live.

“I remember in the first week he took us as a midfield four – it was me, Hayden, Jonny [Howson] and Alex [Mowatt]. We had a session just the four us and the drills he was doing, you might call it basic stuff really, but it was the way he explained and described it, it just made so much sense. We were thinking, ‘how have we not seen this before?’

“Everything he does and says, he just simplifies everything and makes it so easy to understand. I think there’s a perception that he’ll be in the changing room going really in-depth and detailed into everything. But quite the opposite, he just breaks the game down so simply.”

Chuba Akpom

“The gaffer has just given me that freedom since he walked in,” Championship top scorer Akpom told Sky Sports in January.

“Him and Woody have been great with me. They’ve seen the qualities I have, and try to bring them out the best they can. I just go out there and have fun and, knowing the gaffer just wants me to express myself, it takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.

“They know how to communicate with the players. They can relate to us because they’ve had amazing careers. The gaffer was so successful at Manchester United, and Woody had a top career. They know how to relate to us and to get the best out of us.”

Riley McGree

“It’s his day-to-day calmness and fluidity,” Middlesbrough’s Australia international told the club’s official YouTube channel.

“He’s definitely a calming presence, but that’s what you expect after everything that he’s done in his career.

“You take all of it on board, you have to show that respect as well but so far coming in, it’s been really good for me on a personal level.”

Jonny Howson

“Until you deal with someone day-to-day,” the midfielder told The Athletic. “you don’t realise why he was at the top for so many years.

“He never accepted, or accepts, where he’s at. He always wanted to get better – he’s said that to us numerous times.

“It’s a good atmosphere, calm, inside the building but when you’re out on the training pitch he will let you know if it’s not being done right. We’ve seen that a few times. He will stop a session or a drill and tell you it’s not good enough.”

Kieran Scott

“When you first meet him, he’s calculated, calm, he assesses the room and the people in it,” Middlesbrough’s director of football told The Athletic.

“He says what he needs to say until he’s comfortable. Then he’ll start to say more. It’s like a flower opening up.

“He’s got a really good personality; he’s a funny guy, likes to laugh. He likes to be serious, don’t get me wrong, but he has a nice aura about him. He doesn’t shout, he doesn’t demand. Gradually he drops his guard and ends up as one of the boys.

“And he talks about football non-stop. I mean… non-stop.”

Tony Mowbray

“There are one or two managers in the league at the moment who I feel have a really good intelligence about them, about to how to run a football team,” said the Sunderland manager.

“Vincent Kompany is one, and Michael Carrick is another. It’s exciting these new, young football coaches are coming along.”

Vincent Kompany

“I know Michael well as a person, and I have a lot of respect for him and his work ethic,” said the Burnley boss.

“His brain and the way he thinks is definitely something that makes him stand out, not just as a manager, but also when he was a player as well.

“I understand why people will put the two of us together, but I think it’s difficult to draw comparisons between us because we are all on our own trajectory. I look at Michael Carrick and I am impressed with what he is doing, but he is at his own club dealing with his own issues.

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