Carrick snorts derision at the suggestion that United should prioritise the Europa League because it offers a back-door route into the Champions League next season.
He wants a top four place and Europa League success, not just as a safety net if they fail in one or the other competition but because his standards and the expectations on United are set so high.
Remember, this is a player who did not finish outside the top two in the Premier League in any his first seven seasons at Old Trafford following his £18m move from Tottenham in 2006.
In those days, he would never have imagined United would have finished seventh, fourth and fifth as they have done in the last three seasons respectively, while spending nearly all the current campaign outside the top four desperately trying to force their way in.
“A marker for next season?,” said Carrick. “Forget about next season – we have enough to play for this season. We are not looking any further ahead than that.
Manchester United team predicted to face Chelsea Fri, April 14, 2017
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“The Premier League top four is still an opportunity. People are saying that the Europa League is the best chance [to qualify for the Champions League] for us but you cannot look at it like that.
“There is no way we can give up on the top four. Yes, we have a tough run in but it is still close.”
Carrick, 35, is reluctant to make comparisons with Antonio Conte’s leaders but is clearly frustrated that United – who have actually lost fewer games than the leaders (three for United, four Chelsea) – have seen their title hopes evaporate on the back of nine frustrating home draws thanks to a lack of a killer instinct.
They are unbeaten in 21 League games but 10 of them have been drawn. It was a similar story on Thursday night in Brussels where United looked set for a 1-0 win in their Europa League quarter-final first leg with Anderlecht, only to miss chances to put the game to bed before conceding an 87th minute equaliser.
“I don’t want to compare us to Chelsea or anyone else,” said Carrick. “I am not going down that road. We concentrate on ourselves.
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“If we were struggling football-wise and were miles away, then there would be a bigger problem to solve. But we have been playing so well for so long. We have just got to be ruthless and finish teams off. We have to find a way.
Michael Carrick has urged Manchester United to focus on securing a top four finish
Michael Carrick believes Manchester United are on the right track under Jose Mourinho
“We have the quality there. It is disappointing if you are not creating but we are looking dangerous. We need that little bit of edge to take us to the next level to be successful. It is close, we are getting better but we still have to find that way and I am sure it will come.
“The draws are killing us. In some ways you are better off losing one and winning one than doing what we have been doing by drawing so many.
“We were bitterly disappointed coming off the pitch in Brussels. When you are that close to a win and have done so many good things, it is frustrating. We let the game drift too long in the second half.
“We were too comfortable in many ways. And a 1-0 lead is dangerous. It has been in the past on many occasions and it proved to be again.
“There are an awful lot of good things we can take from it and an awful lot of good signs. In that respect we are not in a bad place but, as a team, we need to find a way to win games especially when you are playing as well as we have done.
“We’re not getting carried away but if we play to our best there could be a chance of beating Chelsea. We can look to do something similar (to the performance at Anderlecht) but obviously get the goals as well.”
Carrick’s own future is still up in the air with his contract expiring this summer and a new one yet to be agreed. But he is more certain that United are heading in the right way under Jose Mourinho, despite the frustrations of his first season in charge.
“As a team and a squad we are growing,” he said. “We will develop that killer instinct. We believe we will get better. We will improve.
“There are a lot of good signs. Going on an unbeaten run like we have done shows we have a bit of steel and have a bit of character about us. There are positives but at the moment it is not quite enough for us.”
The smart money is on another draw tomorrow but a rare home win would not only open up the title race but galvanise United’s top four bid.