We played together before working alongside each other under Solskjaer – now we're rivals battling for promotion | The Sun

MICHAEL CARRICK knows he has his work  cut out trying to spring a surprise on Manchester United pal Kieran McKenna.

Firstly, Middlesbrough could be without TEN players for the visit of high-flying Ipswich this afternoon.

And even at full strength, Boro chief Carrick knows how hard it will be to get one over “one of the best coaches you could ever hope for”.

The good mates met as Tottenham players before being reunited at United when McKenna, 37, took over as Under-18s coach while Carrick, 42, was nearing the end as a player.

They then worked under both Jose  Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ahead of  locking horns as bosses for the first time, Carrick said: “Of course, there is a temptation to try to catch him off guard.



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“We worked in each other’s pockets  for so long at United — we emptied our football brains on to each other.

“We helped prepare a team along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for a number of years so we saw a lot of similar things to be able to work together.

“You unload all of your knowledge on  to each other and feed off it, developing some sort of understanding. We certainly think in similar ways.

“I picked his brains a lot and we ended up learning a bit from each other, though  I probably learned more from him than  he did from me!”

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McKenna began his coaching path  when a hip injury forced him to retire, aged 22.


Fast forward 15 years and he is the envy of the Championship and attracting admiring glances from Prem clubs having propelled the Tractor Boys to second after going  up from League One last summer.

Carrick said: “He has done an incredible job, which I am not surprised about one bit. He is one of the best coaches that  I have ever come across.

“He’s got a very good football brain and eye for detail. His knowledge is just incredible in terms of what he  can store and remember.

“On the grass he’s fantastic in how he structures his sessions. He’s just  an all-round top coach.

“I knew from the start, when I first saw him working, how good he was with the youth teams and Under-18s at United when I was playing.

“Then I got to work with him with  the first team — and I knew from that stage that he would go on to have a  terrific managerial career.

“We speak a lot and are good friends. Who knows what is going to happen  with Kieran? I just know how good he is and what he is capable of.”

Equally, McKenna sees Carrick as a pal and inspiration.

He said: “Of course, the opposition manager is a good friend and someone I hold in the highest regard as a player, coach and, more importantly, as a person.

“The full focus and respect has gone into preparing for a really good opponent.

“I think we have very similar views on things, very similar views on football.

“How we like the game to be played and quite a lot of things that we enjoy from a tactical point of view in terms of how we want our teams to go about things.

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“So I think we share quite a lot of  viewpoints and a relationship in football that I feel like I’ve learnt and benefited from such a lot.”

Carrick believes both  were given a great grounding at Old Trafford.
He added: “I had some good and some more challenging times — and you learn from that as a player and coach.” 

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