Championship strugglers Middlesbrough have appointed former Manchester United and England midfielder Michael Carrick as head coach.
The 41-year-old had been out of the game since leaving Old Trafford after a three-game stint as temporary boss after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal.
Boro had been without a permanent manager since Chris Wilder was sacked, with Leo Percovich in interim charge.
Carrick’s first game will be at Preston in the Championship on Saturday.
He had said it was not the right time for him to return to football but had a change of heart after a positive second round of talks.
It is also a return to the north-east of England for Carrick, having been born in Newcastle.
“Middlesbrough was the first professional club I played for as a nine-year-old boy, so it’s a very special feeling to be back here as a head coach,” he said.
“Growing up in the north-east myself I’m fully aware of what football means to people. It’s a real privilege for me to be in this position and to feel all the passion and enthusiasm you’ve got for the game and for Boro.”
He will be assisted by Jonathan Woodgate. The former Boro player returns to The Riverside having been the manager from June 2019 to June 2020.
The club has also confirmed that Percovich will now take up a role as the club’s head of player pathway and development.
Carrick, who also played for West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, made 463 appearances for United over a 12-year career, winning 17 trophies at Old Trafford before retiring in 2018.
He also won 34 England caps between 2001 and 2015, and was part of the squads at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
After his retirement he became part of United’s coaching staff, initially under Jose Mourinho for a short period until the Portuguese was sacked and then – more prominently – under Solskjaer for the near-three years in which the Norwegian was in charge.
When Solskjaer left, Carrick led United to wins over Villarreal in the Champions League and Arsenal in the Premier League – with a draw at Chelsea sandwiched in between – before stepping down.
‘Michael is perfect fit’
Carrick arrives at Middlesbrough as their sixth permanent boss since the club was relegated from the Premier League in 2017 – a number which includes Woodgate.
He is the 13th appointment of Steve Gibson’s tenure as chairman, and the Boro owner is thrilled at the prospect of working with Carrick.
“We had identified a number of potentials for the vacancy who we spoke with, and were impressed by all, but Michael was the outstanding candidate,” Gibson told the club’s website.
“Michael has the same values as the club, and we are very much aligned in our ambitions.
“We see Michael as the perfect fit for us and he believes this is the right club at the right time.”
Boro finished seventh under Wilder last season, only missing out on a play-off spot on the final day, and expectations were of a promotion push this campaign.
That never materialised and the ex-Sheffield United boss was dismissed three weeks ago after just two wins from their first 11 games.
Percovich steadied the ship with seven points from five games but the club sit just one point and one place above the bottom three.
Now Carrick has five games before the break for the World Cup, starting at Deepdale on Saturday, to try to move Boro clear of the relegation zone.
Analysis – Woodgate return more surprising than Carrick appointment
BBC Radio Tees’ Mark Drury
Michael Carrick’s appointment today has not come as a huge surprise as his name had been heavily trailed last week.
Carrick arrives at Middlesbrough with the club just outside the Championship relegation zone during a season that has taken a rapid downward turn when so much was expected.
It is hoped his time on the Manchester United coaching staff under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have prepared him for life in the hot seat.
More of a surprise to Boro fans is the identity of his first team coach, former manager, Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate was Boro manager prior to Neil Warnock and Chris Wilder and has been a regular on the airwaves with BBC Radio 5 Live after a short spell at Bournemouth where he led the Cherries to the Championship play-off semi-final.
Boro say there will be a further addition to the coaching staff in due course with fans expecting a more seasoned head to provide the experience Carrick has yet to accrue.