Manchester United are on their way to Spain to begin a new era after the sacking of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Red Devils will be led by caretaker boss Michael Carrick when they face Villarreal on Tuesday in the Champions League.
A win would confirm United’s place in the knockout stages, while two draws in Group F would also book their spot.
But he will be well aware of their recent poor performances, having assisted Solskjaer in his final match on Saturday, an embarrassing 4-1 defeat away to relegation-tipped Watford.
On Monday, following a solemn pre-match press conference, the former Red Devils midfielder led his squad, including superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Harry Maguire, to Manchester airport for their departure.
As well as the absences of Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, Carrick has decided not to risk Luke Shaw while Mason Greenwood returned a positive Covid-19 test.
Carrick had held his presser alongside Maguire just hours before take off, admitting how tough of a time the last three days have been.
“To see Ole lose his job yesterday was tough for me,” the caretaker United manager said. “You could tell from the emotion around the place [how much people respect him].
“It was a pleasure working with him, so it was a sad day for me.”
The 40-year-old went on to say: “Football’s football and this is a usual day in terms of [the fact] we’ve got a big game to prepare for.”
“It’s a privilege for me to now sit in this position. I understand the responsibility that comes with that, and now the focus is flipping our minds and moving forward quickly.
“It’s what this club does very well; it’s what this club’s done very well historically.
“We’re very much looking forward to the game tomorrow, and going over there with a real positive mind and attitude.
“The boys will be ready for it. We can’t wait for the game to come.”
Although executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and co are set to appoint an interim boss until the end of the season, Carrick remains in the temporary post until further notice.
However, the five-time Premier League winner says he is not looking beyond Villarreal.
“In terms of what I understand, my mindset is picking the team for tomorrow night,” Carrick affirmed.
“I know the club really well. It’s been my life for a long time now.
“Whether it’s one [game], two or longer than that, I’m not too sure. That’s not on my mind.”
He continued: “It’s a big game tomorrow and I’ll go about the job as I do.
“We’re positive. It’s a fantastic game of football and we’ll be tested, but these are the nights to remember. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m not giving too much away, but I’m very clear in my own mind about how we’re going to go about it.”
Maguire, who was sent off against Watford, says the playing staff must also shoulder the blame which has seen the Red Devils pick up just one win from their last seven Premier League games.
“We’ve been on a journey together, it’s never nice to see someone lose their job,” the United skipper said.
“For him to come in and speak to us yesterday, the emotion around the place… I think yeah, it was difficult to be in.
“All the lads, it shows as a group of lads, how much we want to succeed and like you said, the result on Saturday, it wasn’t good enough.
“The results recently haven’t been good enough. It’s a results business and, unfortunately, Ole has paid the price for that.
“Obviously, we’ve got to take a big responsibility for that as well.”
Man Utd travelling squad
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Dean Henderson, Tom Heaton, Lee Grant*
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones*, Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles
Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Amad, Jadon Sancho,
Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Martial.
*Jones and Grant cannot play as they are not registered.