When Manchester United won the Premier League in the 2012/13 season, Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick were two of the key midfield performers.

Carrick is eight years older than the new Watford boss, but they played regularly together for United.

Tomorrow they will be stood in opposing technical areas as Watford travel to face Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

“He was my consistent midfield partner. I think of the 80 or so games I played for United, he was alongside me for 70 of them,” said Cleverley.

“When you think of Michael Carrick, you just think class – as a player, as a person, as a coach.

“He just oozes class. When he spoke the room listened and I have massive, massive respect for him.

“In possession he did all the work for me – out of possession I might have shaded it!”

The combined ages of Cleverley and Carrick still falls several years short of the man who shaped so many careers at Old Trafford – Sir Alex Ferguson.

The former United boss called Cleverley to congratulate him in the summer.

“That was when I took the job in the Academy and went ‘to the other side’,” the Watford head coach said.

“He had some good advice for me: one piece away from the pitch and one piece on the pitch.

“It’s something that sticks with me, and I’ve had a lot of good advice from ex-coaches and managers.

“But he is the name that stands out obviously.”

Not too many of that United squad have gone into coaching so far.

“There’s a couple still playing: Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck are still going strong,” Cleverley pointed out.

“I think Phil Jones is going down the coaching route.

“But it’s quite a media heavy squad I suppose, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Patrice Evra.

“There’s a couple in there I was quite surprised about but they all have their own set of circumstances.

“I’m happy with the route I’ve gone down.”

Cleverley would like to get one over his old teammate Carrick, and admitted the way Watford lost their last away game is providing extra motivation

“Yeah it does still hurt to be honest,” he said.

“It was an unfortunate way we lost our unbeaten record at Southampton, and then with the Luke O’Nien handball last week I think we’re due one.

“Given the opposition we’ve had and the away games we’ve had it would have been nice to have an unbeaten period.

“After the Leeds game I made sure the players understood it wasn’t us over-achieving when we gave them such a good game.

“It was us being at the level we should be, and we have the players to perform at.

“We’ve gone to Ipswich, West Brom and Southampton and really mixed it away from home.

“To challenge in this league these are the levels we have to be at, and I don’t get a feeling of over achievement.

“When we win, it’s straight back to work. We’re not celebrating and taking two days off – no, winning is a habit I want us to get into.

“Now is the time to think about the performances, and that’s why I wasn’t super happy with last weekend.”