Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling started in the middle and impressed as a partnership until an injury to Rafael forced the latter out wide, allowing substitute Rio Ferdinand to make his first appearance since the FA Cup defeat to Swansea City on 5 January.
Speaking to the media after the final whistle, the boss saluted his impressive centre-backs and explained why their attitudes to playing are representative of his entire squad.
"There were a lot of good things," the boss said. "We defended very well. Rio came on at half-time and was fantastic. It is never easy coming on in a game like that and getting up to the tempo but he played really well. Chris Smalling was excellent as well.
"I believe the desire is still there in the squad. I see them and they are great lads. They are fantastic with their training and their commitment is first class. You saw how good Vida was and how good Rio was when he came on.
"They are a great group of players and a very experienced group. They have been winners, all of them. They all have medals and when you have won you want to win more. And they are all still hungry and determined to be successful."
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