The warmth and respect with which Tom Cleverley spoke of his former Manchester United and England teammate Michael Carrick this week was reciprocated by the Middlesbrough boss.

The pair won a Premier League title while at Old Trafford, and the Watford head coach told the media of his “massive respect” for Carrick.

The Boro boss is eight years older than Cleverley, and said the thought of the 34-year-old being in the away dug-out at the Riverside will make him feel old

“I’ve been in touch with Clevs and I’m delighted he got the job. I know him really well,” said Carrick.

“The last time we won the league at United we played a lot of games together, and him becoming a manager makes me feel old!

“He was doing a lot of my running at that stage, so for him to now be stepping into management… I’m delighted for him.

“He’s done really well so far and you can see the good work he’s been doing already. We know it will be a tough game.

“They’re looking a bit longer term now with his appointment and they’ll be looking for a strong end to the season exactly the same as us, so it should be a good game."

A year ago Cleverley was still a player; at the start of the season he was head coach of the Hornets Under-18s; two months ago he got the job on an interim basis. It has, as he said himself, been a whirlwind year.

“You take the opportunity when it comes,” said Carrick.

“Clevs is smart and has a real football intelligence. He had a spell coaching in their under-18s and has stepped up now, so I’m hoping he does well.

“It’s similar to how I am now in terms of giving young players an opportunity. Whether that’s debuts, training with us or bits of advice to help them.

“I was exactly the same as a player. When I was at United, it was almost part of the evolution of what you were expected to do as a player as you were getting a little bit older and considered a senior player.

“Playing alongside players like Clevs, it was natural to just give him bits of advice. To see him go on and, first of all have a fantastic playing career and now go into management, of course there’s a lot of pride.

“I don’t want to take credit for much of it, but certainly when you come through at United, senior players will certainly have a big impact.

“So I take a lot of pride in how players like Clevs have flourished through their careers. It’s great and I’m sure he’ll do really well.”