07/12/2009 10:42, Report by Stewart Gardner

All change at the back

When Michael Carrick woke up in United’s London hotel on Saturday morning I wonder if in his wildest dreams (or nightmares!) he’d imagined returning to his old stomping ground as a centre back?

Even if he did consider that prospect, I can guarantee he didn’t think his central defensive partner at the final whistle would be the smallest man on the field: Patrice Evra. United’s back four as Peter Walton blew his whistle for the last time on Saturday was Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs. Extraordinary.

So it’s all the more amazing that the Reds managed to keep a clean sheet. I bumped into Michael Carrick in the tunnel after the game and he seemed to really enjoy his new role. Indeed, he suggested to me that he might start giving Rio Ferdinand a few tips on how to play centre back.

Credit to Tomasz Kuczszak, too, who had to keep his concentration in front of about four different defensive combinations. Sadly, though, Tomasz's run-out also included a rather embarrassing celebration after United banged in one of the four goals. He attempted a handstand, but one of his hands slipped on the sodden turf and he ended up flat on his back. Nani would not have been proud! But when I spoke to the Pole on MUTV afterwards he took it in good spirits and said he was going to spend Sunday practicing handstands.

I just wonder if we’ll look back on 5 December as a real turning point in the season. United overcame all sorts of adversity to crush West Ham while the supposedly invincible Chelsea were beaten at City. A two-point gap is nothing.

I’m off with the team to Wolfsburg this morning. I’ve packed my boots just in case our defensive problems worsen and I’ve told Paddy Crerand to do the same. You never know...


Premier League