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The 31-year-old midfielder believes the side may have turned a corner when it comes to cutting out the sort of sloppy errors which have marred their campaign so far

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick believes the clean sheet picked up against West Ham was the most important aspect of the Red Devils' 1-0 win on Wednesday night.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side have prevented the opposition from scoring just three times in their opening 14 Premier League games so far this term, three less than title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.

Nevertheless, Carrick was pleased with the team's defensive display - drawing particular attention to the performances of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling - in the face of West Ham’s imposing strikers.

"It was by far not a classic. Obviously we weren’t at our best and the flowing football that you want to play and the chances that you want to create didn’t quite happen," Carrick told MUTV.

"But we got a clean sheet which was quite pleasing and I thought we defended well.

"They had a couple of opportunities and when they put balls into the box like they did, those can fall to anybody. But overall I thought we defended well - we didn’t play as well as we could have but we won the game and managed to keep a clean sheet.

"A clean sheet is the biggest plus that we can take from tonight. They pumped a lot of balls into the box, asked questions and made us defend.

"Our two centre halves were terrific. West Ham had two big guys – as Carroll goes off, Carlton Cole comes on – and it can be tough. But we got the clean sheet. It is something to build on because the performance needs to be better.

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"A second goal would’ve put us in a much better position going into the final few minutes but, in the end, we held on and we’re still in a good position at the top of the league. We are quite satisfied."

United have gone behind first in 13 of their 21 games across all competitions this term and Carrick was relieved that they were able to get in front against the Hammers early on, with Robin van Persie scoring after just 33 seconds.

He added: "It has been a while. We had a spell, about a year or two ago, when we were starting games really well and killing teams off really early. We want to get back to that because Old Trafford is a difficult place to play when you go a goal down.

"We want to make it that way, certainly in the games that are to come because going a goal down has made things a lot harder for us than they should have been.

"Keeping a clean sheet gives us something to build on in the future."

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