Carrick: Keep It Tight

Michael Carrick is hoping for at least a clean sheet against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Indeed, he sees the non-concession of a goal at the weekend as a top priority.

"If we can keep a clean sheet you are guaranteed a point and you can always nick a goal with the likes of Jermain and Paolo up front - that's what we've got to hope for because we haven't been getting them lately.

"I think we would prefer it if it is not really an open game because they have got players that can really hurt you, so if we go there and keep solid we will be happy."

The Hammers have conceded goals in all but one of their last 21 away matches, but Michael insists there is still cause for optimism.

"If we are on top of our game and they have a little bit of an off day I think we can go there and win," he says.

Michael can't put his finger on why - by Manchester United's standards - they are not enjoying such a good time at the moment, but he does say: "People are saying Manchester United are struggling but they are always going to bounce back some time and we are just hoping they will have an off day because when they are on their game there are not many people who can live with them.

"I haven't really seen a lot of them but they have conceded a lot of goals which is not like them, so hopefully we can nick one or two ourselves.

"You always get spells like that and even Manchester United are having one at the minute - you just have to bounce back and sooner or later it will change round if you keep working hard - and that is what we are going to do."

Yet again, as the players went through a 'warm down' session on Thursday, Michael was left to reflect on what might have been.

"We had the chances to win it, I think, but the first half wasn't good enough really and let us down," he admits.

"We got off to a bad start, didn't play well, and the crowd started getting on our backs.

"It wasn't happening for us, but in the second half we created a lot of chances and it was much better.

"We tried not to let the crowd affect us in the first half but obviously if the fans are getting on your back like that it is going to make you worse.

"In the second half we played a lot better and the crowd got behind us, which was good.

"At the end of the day, we were not happy with just the one point, but that is just the way it has been going recently."

Michael says the penalty save by Peter Enckleman from Paolo Di Canio was not necessarily the key factor in the game, and stresses: "It is always disappointing to miss a penalty but we had other chances as well and we didn't put them away - so you can't really blame Paolo.

"We have been saying we should be winning games for too long now and we can't say that for the rest of the season.

"We have got to do it on the pitch, prove to people we can win games, and pick up three points."