Mourinho praises 'big player' Carrick as United honour retiring captain

Jose Mourinho will welcome Michael Carrick with "open arms" as the retiring Manchester United midfielder gets ready to join the club's coaching staff.

Former England international Carrick will hang up his boots after this season, bringing the curtain down on a stellar career that included spells with West Ham and Tottenham.

The 36-year-old joined United in 2006 and while he is coming towards the end of his playing days at Old Trafford, he will not be ending his long association with the club just yet.

Mourinho, who presented Carrick with a special contribution trophy at United's awards ceremony on Tuesday, admitted he is losing a "big player" from his squad - but is delighted the club captain will be part of his backroom team instead.

"I have to admit that one of the most difficult things in my 18 years as a manager is, when a big player is leaving, it is always very sad," Mourinho told the club's website. 

"So this time we try to do it in a way where I am not sad. A big player is leaving but a big man is staying.

"There is a space for him and we will welcome him with open arms but, before that, we still want Michael to play and then the next day give his boots to his kids."

Carrick has played just four times this term, with his solitary outing in the Premier League seeing him come off the bench for the final 24 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in February.

He underwent a procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm last year, having felt something was wrong during the EFL Cup tie against Burton Albion in September.

"I've had an unbelievable time here but I'm looking forward to the future," Carrick said at the awards function. "Hopefully, I've got one more game to play but I'm thankful for everything. I'm quite happy with the ending. I'm calm about it.

"To the fans, I've turned into one of you now. I support this club home and away now. We've got a great spirit we need to get keep that and need to stick together."

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