Michael Carrick is targeting a solid Christmas spell to set United up for the New Year, when traditionally the Reds really click into gear.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side – like the other title challengers – have experienced a bumpy ride in a topsy-turvy 2010/11 campaign, but in United’s case a raft of injuries and subsequent lost momentum seem to be behind the Reds. That isn’t a reason to relax, according to Carrick.
“You hope that spell is behind us,” Michael told ManUtd.com.
“It's never far away though if you start to take your foot off the pedal. A couple of bad performances and bad results aren’t far behind. That’s what keeps you going and keeps you on your toes.
“You’ve got to keep the standards high, and that’s been the strength of this club over the years, maintaining that quality. It was a frustrating time earlier on in the season when we felt we were throwing away some games when we were in front.
"Now, we look back and it seems as though we’ve had a good run under the circumstances having not lost a game yet, and we’re satisfied with the position we’re in.
“It’s funny how things can change in this league, but we’re not getting carried away. We’ll assess it again after the Christmas period and see what position we’re in then. Hopefully it’s a good one.”
New Year is normally the time when United kick on but why has this become such a tradition - is it that Sir Alex and his players thrive on the pressure of must-win games? Or is it simply that the prospect of silverware comes squarely into view?
“It’s difficult to put your finger on,” admits Carrick. “I think after Christmas you’ve got your eyes on the finish line, and that just brings everyone together with the same aim. It could also be that this is when the big league games and the cup games come around, and it lifts us.
"Every game seems to be more important, and when the business end of the season comes around the big games are the ones that count. We seem to relish