Despite a poor half from Fletcher, Van Gaal wanted Carrick into the midfield either way to influence the match in a way Fletcher simply wasn’t able to do.
Fletcher was making his first start since August and looked painfully off the pace with United unable to get a firm grip on the game during the first period.
But Carrick’s passing to the front men meant the visitors improved after half-time and Van Gaal explained that was the reason behind the change.
“With Carrick you have more passes to the strikers and that was needed, which is why I changed Darren and put Michael in midfield,” Van Gaal explained.
“But I could have changed a lot of players because I think that it is the first demand that we are aggressive.
“When you are the better team you have to win. We have had a lack of aggression in the first half, I think at that time we were much better.
“We kept the ball very well but didn’t do too much with it. We didn’t create many chances in the first half.”
Supporters may wonder why Carrick didn’t start in midfield but it’s a sure sign that van Gaal wants the midfielder to be a permanent part of his team once defenders are back fit and ready to play.