Louis van Gaal might not have too many options at centre-back when it comes to Manchester United’s next Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace, but the Dutchman has been given a respite by one of his most senior players.
Michael Carrick has revealed that he would be more than happy to fill in in the heart of the defence if it means getting game-time, something he’s been bereft off since before the start of the season when he picked up an injury in training.
Carrick positional change
At the weekend Marcos Rojo became the latest United defender to be ruled out of contention for forthcoming games when he dislocated his shoulder. Chris Smalling was also sent off in that match, meaning none of Van Gaal’s first-choice centre-backs are available.
Other, more senior, figures such as Phil Jones and Jonny Evans remain unavailable through injury, and it looks likely that youngster Paddy McNair - who was called up for his first-team debut earlier on this season - will feature in the coming weeks once more.
Moving Carrick back isn’t an ideal scenario for United, but it may be a necessity given the stark lack of options. The ex-England international isn't a complete stranger to the position, and Sir Alex Ferguson used him there frequently when Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were both absent during his reign.
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That being said he is a passing midfielder by trade, and though a home fixture against a Crystal Palace side fresh from a defeat against Sunderland isn't the trickiest test, he could well be caught out if Neil Warnock's side are having a good day.
If nothing else the fact that Carrick, who currently earns £80k-a-week at United, may be forced to partner a green-around-the-gills academy graduate at the heart of the defence will put beyond all doubt the idea that Van Gaal needs to spend money in the January transfer window.
January transfer window
Over the course of the summer United were linked with a number of top-class defenders, but ultimately the likes of Mats Hummels, Mehdi Benatia and Thomas Vermaelen rejected a move to Old Trafford in favour of other avenues.
It's been repeatedly speculated that Van Gaal will once more move for Hummels once the winter transfer window rolls around, though his status as Borussia Dortmund's club captain will be a huge obstacle to get around.