Manchester United must respond to poor form and find a way through it, says Michael Carrick

United have made their worst start to the Premier League in 24 years

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The Independent Football

Michael Carrick believes the best way for Manchester United to combat their present problems is to face them head on.

While Wednesday's draw with Shakhtar Donetsk has left the Red Devils in a decent position in the Champions League, their Premier League status leaves a great deal to be desired.

United head to Sunderland on Saturday on the back of their worst start to a domestic campaign since 1989.

They are in the bottom half of the table and should they get beaten at the Stadium of Light, it will be the first time they have lost three successive league games since 2001.

Carrick insists the pressure has not been seeping into the Old Trafford dressing room, but he knows the reality cannot be avoided either.

"You have periods, whether it is through seasons or through years when things don't quite go right," he said.

"You just have to face it and find a way to get through it.

"You can't hide and go under. You have to respond. That is what we will do."

United can take comfort from the knowledge they have not lost a league game at the Stadium of Light since 1997.

They have emerged victorious on six of their last seven visits and, if anything, face a team who have been pitched into even more turmoil than United following the abrupt decision to axe manager Paolo di Canio.

Yet Carrick accepts United cannot perform as they did against Manchester City and in the home defeat to West Brom last weekend.

"Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on things," he said.

"There are probably a number of reasons.

"If you don't do enough things well in a game then you lose it.

"I think we just get back to doing the right things, doing what we believe in. If we do that, in time we will be fine."

David Moyes' team selection will be interesting given United appeared to have the right attacking balance in Donetsk, despite Wayne Rooney's absence.

Yet Rooney has undoubtedly been United's star performer this season and with five goals in his last five games will be an automatic choice if he recovers from the shin injury sustained in training on Tuesday.