8 men out

Michael Carrick celebrates his goal v. Wolfsburg in the early stages of the Champion's League (Getty Images)

Rio Ferdinand. John O’Shea. Jonny Evans. Gary Neville. Peanut Head. Fabio da Silva. Rafael da Silva. And Nemanja Vidić stricken with the flu. United are, in Sir Alex’s words, “down to the barebones” on defense. It’s not a good thing.

All of that means that Michael Carrick (!) and Patrice Evra (!!) will start as center backs versus Wolfsburg and their 6’3″ striker Edin Dzeko (perhaps a transfer target for United. Though I’d still like to see them go after Igor Akinfeev and a central defender or 3. Oh, how I wish Gerard Piqué was still at Old Trafford. But I digress). Perhaps it is not the best time to mention that Evra is, in fact, a midget. Even though the Red Devils are already through to the second round, finishing second in the group might result in facing Real Madrid or Barcelona, which is not altogether appealing at the moment. Thus a win is probably necessary.

Sir Alex is going to have to break out one of his better inspirational speeches and play very conservatively at the back. No playing the offside trap or anything that smacks of taking a chance. In any event, even though Wolfsburg are on a poor run of form, they can’t be taken lightly. Dzeko has been a goal-scoring savant and the lack of a Vidić or a Ferdinand in the middle will not help things.

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