Michael Carrick has laid out the target for Manchester United ahead of the new season and issued a warning to any new players coming into the club.
United have won all three of their pre-season fixtures as they look to improve upon last season’s sixth-placed finsh in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho’s side won the EFL Cup and the Europa League, therefore guaranteeing themselves a Champions League place, but newly-appointed club captain Carrick insists the team has to aim for the Premier League title this term and nothing less.
“I can’t get my head around that, to say top-four is acceptable,” said the veteran midfielder. “You can’t expect to win the league every year. But you’ve got to set out to do that.
“We can’t be sat here saying finishing in the top four is a step up from last season. That’s not what we’re about here.
“We need to be aiming for the top. As players, we understand that, and that’s what we’re geared for as a club. We’ve got to put it into practice and take it a step further than we have done the last few years. It’s pretty much win the league or nothing for me.”
As United’s longest-serving player and holder of five Premier League winner’s medals, Carrick accepts he has a responsibility to help instill and maintain the right mentality in the squad.
“I’m well aware of the standards that need to be set at this club,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have played with some great leaders and characters in my career here and I’ve learned a lot.
“There have been times in the league when standards have dropped, there’s no hiding from that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get back there again if you keep doing the right things.
“It’s a big club, this; a beast of a football club. There are things that come with that: responsibility, pressure and expectation, and that’s only off the pitch. So when you get on the pitch it’s a different ball game as well.
“When you’re here, it’s difficult to explain how different it can be to other clubs until you go through it. There are big players who come here and, for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked for them.’