LONDON • Michael Carrick has been travelling the country looking at areas badly affected by child poverty. He looks at the poor living conditions, inadequate diet, and the risk of tumbling into a life of crime, and shakes his head.
"Kids are suffering," he said.
In looking for initiatives to invest money through the Michael Carrick Foundation, Manchester United's club captain has focused first on two areas he knows well, near Wallsend, in the north-east of England where he grew up, and near Old Trafford, his second home.
At 36, the midfielder has a lot to consider as he winds down a distinguished playing career and sets out on a coaching pathway under Jose Mourinho that he hopes will lead to him managing United one day.
"That's definitely appealing," he said of the job.
Carrick has become a real leader at the club since joining in 2006, and wore the armband against Watford yesterday in his final match before retiring.
It's an unbelievable opportunity to learn (from Jose Mourinho) who's been everywhere and won everywhere. He's got something very special. He's able to assess games quickly, at half-time, and he gets how the game's going.
MICHAEL CARRICK, retiring captain of Manchester United, on taking the first steps towards a coaching pathway within the club.
He is an intriguing mix of strictly professional, detaching himself from the hype and emotion of his sport, and yet genuinely caring and engaged. He has beaten many opponents, but not time.
"I could play on. I'd be fit enough. I wouldn't be playing as well as I've played, so that's what tells me that it's time," said Carrick, who has 34 caps for England. "I know my body. I know myself. It just feels right."
Before yesterday, he played four times this season, recovering from a heart condition and calf problem.
The former West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur star has had plenty of time to reflect on his career. During his 12 years at United, he has won 18 trophies, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
"I had the best times under Sir Alex (Ferguson). We had five (Premier League titles) and three Champions League finals in seven years," he said. "We had a great squad, a great time. Winning the Champions League in Moscow, without doubt, was the best feeling I have ever had.
"I don't think about Moscow every day, but every time the Champions League comes on I get flashbacks. I wish I could take the whole night and relive the whole thing again. You can always watch the game again but it is the other stuff you miss, the build-up, the party afterwards."
Carrick has always looked a coach in waiting - "my trainer-coach on the field," as former United manager Louis van Gaal called him.
Mourinho's astute offer of a coaching role came at a perfect time for Carrick, who had just finished his A licence and is booked in on the Pro Licence course at St George's Park starting January.
"I didn't even have to think about it," Carrick said of Mourinho's offer.
"It was a total no-brainer. Working with Jose. I'm genuinely looking around and thinking 'not many lads would get that opportunity so quick'.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity to learn off someone like Jose who's been everywhere and won everywhere. He's got something very special. He's a winner. You can see that drive in him to succeed. He's able to assess games quickly, at half-time, and he gets how the game's going.
"It's all about winning with Jose, which shines through."
Carrick already knows the likes of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay and United's future generation such as Jim Garner and Mason Greenwood.
"I'm not suddenly 'a coach', I'm just trying to help the boys, bits in training, bits in the changing room, sit down and go through videos with them," he said. "Not by any means a lecture, just information, trying to guide them a bit."
He has been working with Pogba on the timing of his runs.
"He's a huge talent," Carrick said of the France international. "Paul has all the attributes that you'd want in a player, physically, technically, it's up to him how good he wants to be. I look at the crop of good young lads here, real, real talent: Marcus (Rashford), Luke (Shaw), Jesse (Lingard), Anthony (Martial), Romelu (Lukaku), Angel (Gomes), young (Tahith) Chong. That's exciting for me to think I can try and help.
"When you're playing midfield and playing that certain role, you're attached to everything. When I was playing at my best you're in control of everything and that gives you understanding of what a winger wants, what a forward wants and what a defender wants."
United midfielder Ander Herrera is looking forward to working with Carrick the assistant manager.
"He doesn't speak that much but he always does it in a serious and right way," said the Spaniard. "He trains hard every day, even when he's not playing too much, and is so professional.
"I've been so lucky to play with him for years and hopefully I can enjoy him as an assistant. He has been very successful for the club, one of the best midfielders in the last 10 years in the world, and he is a big loss."
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS