<
>

Michael Carrick's Man United career extended after Jose Mourinho's arrival

A week before he was dismissed as Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal called Michael Carrick into a meeting and told the midfielder that he had no future at the club.

Van Gaal thanked Carrick for his services and dealt with the situation in a straightforward, honest manner; it was one character trait of his that the United players actually appreciated. But he was letting go yet another player who'd won everything in the club game and who was respected by peers, staff and fans.

Van Gaal struggled to understand that players like Carrick had more to offer than what they do on the pitch and thought he was dispensable. During the Dutchman's two years in charge he let go a host of players, several of whom just needed their confidence to be salvaged and to be given a renewed sense of purpose.

Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Javier Hernandez, Rafael and Daniel Welbeck were -- and are -- very good footballers. The circumstances regarding their departures were different for each and the term "let go" is disingenuous. Some were offered a year's contract when they wanted two, while others were told that they could stay but wouldn't play, which is almost the last thing any footballer wants to hear.

Tom Cleverley was another who was allowed to exit. His weekly wage was £30,000 per week, by far the lowest among United's first team, and two clubs were willing to pay him twice that. Cleverley is not Paul Scholes -- not even close -- but he would have been a better option off the bench than Nick Powell in Wolfsburg, where United headed out of the Champions League after Van Gaal chose to work with a threadbare squad that was left exposed by injury.

Meanwhile, Evans was not Rio Ferdinand and Welbeck wasn't Andy Cole or Dwight Yorke, but these were lifelong Manchester United supporters who came through the youth ranks with the mentality of winners and the medals to back it up. They didn't cost the club a penny but, without Sir Alex Ferguson to protect and nurture, they were cut adrift, exposed and released.

Van Gaal did what he felt was right but, while hindsight is easy, the Dutchman imprinted a philosophy on a club which, like Barcelona had when he was in charge there, already had one that had served them well. Despite that, he chose to disband it in a flurry of tactical switches which baffled many and broke up a team that had been largely successful.

Those United fans who demand constant change and a new signing every other day called such players "dead wood" and they're saying the same now, suggesting new boss Jose Mourinho needs to make more huge moves.

Mourinho has salvaged the United career of Carrick, who'll now play into an 11th season at the club and get a testimonial. He's a senior player like Wayne Rooney and, although the pair's personalities differ, both are valued in a dressing room that has been transformed too quickly. Football teams don't gel in six months; they take time.

That United let Van Gaal tell Carrick that he didn't have an Old Trafford future just 10 days before the FA Cup final, that nobody had a word in his ear to say "hold fire, there will be changes," shows how determined the club was to avoid any leaks about their intentions regarding the manager position.

Either that or they still weren't sure: When Carrick asked executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in the previous month who the manager was going to be he was told that the decision had not been made. Things changed after the FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

Mourinho has not been brought in to safeguard sentiment or the future of Ryan Giggs, who was scheduled to meet with the club on Friday and who is contracted to be assistant manager until the end of June. The new manager has a history of keeping someone who knows the club he has joined, but Giggs was not happy with the first offering he received from United.

He wants to be heavily involved in the first team and that's why he knows he might have to leave. There will be Premier League managerial changes this summer, each of which offers up a new opportunity. But competition is intense, the calibre of candidates high. One was interviewed for the Everton position for five hours -- and he is unlikely to get the job.

There are always changes at every club, not just Manchester United, but they need to be managed respectfully. Nor should they be swept through because a player had an off-season. Bastian Schweinsteiger had an underwhelming first campaign in England. Perhaps it's not fair to judge any player who had to adapt to Van Gaal's take on the game, but Germany's captain scored his first international goal in five years as the world champions beat Ukraine in their opening Euro 2016 game. He's not finished.

Mourinho has let go Nick Powell, a player who divides opinion within football. He arrived from Crewe amid high hopes but, while injury didn't aid his progress, some coaches strongly doubted that he'd make it after six months at the club.

Powell then impressed on loan at Wigan but someone in his position needs to make friends and allies with people, who can help them out in their chosen profession. Instead, he killed any he had in the media with his supercilious attitude after the defeat in Wolsfburg.

Mourinho has numerous other decisions to make. With Victor Valdes -- and his substantial contract -- now departed, what happens to Sam Johnstone, the young goalkeeper who impressed on the preseason tour of the United States in 2015?

He wants -- and is ready -- to be playing top-flight football rather than standing out for United's under-21 side, which will be full of players next season who have already played at first team level, albeit only for a handful of games. Perhaps a loan move would be good for Johnstone, who excelled previously at Preston North End.

And then there is Phil Jones, a disillusioned figure in the final days of Van Gaal. His future is another for Mourinho to decide as he contemplates changes. Whatever moves are made, let's hope they are more successful than the exit policies implemented by Van Gaal.