near the top [and qualify for the Champions League]. You have to respect them. They are going to be of a certain standard and we have to match it."
With six points already in the bag, Carrick says the players are determined to have qualification for the last 16 wrapped up as soon as possible and ensure there is no repeat of last season's early exit.
"It does help the league form if you can get through early. The manager can change things around and rest players," added the 31-year-old.
"He can use the squad and give players game time. The pressure is off. He can start planning ahead knowing the next stage is already secure.
"It's not always possible though. Sometimes it can go down to the last game, which in itself is not always a bad thing. But it's definitely better to get it done and dusted. We hope we can do that."