Carrick: We must keep foot on gas
Michael Carrick has urged Manchester United to hit the accelerator
pedal as the Premier League finishing line comes into view.
United entertain old rivals Liverpool on Sunday knowing if they win all eight remaining games, an unprecedented fourth successive title - and a record 19th overall - will be theirs.
It is easier said than done of course.
And given Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all still have to be encountered in addition to Rafael Benitez's team, United cannot afford to take anything for granted.
But, after demolishing AC Milan in the Champions League and - the defeat to Everton at Goodison Park aside - with their form on the rise since Christmas, Carrick believes his team-mates have every reason to look forward with optimism to the weeks ahead.
"The confidence is there," he said. "We are playing some good stuff and have been on quite a good run lately.
"It is a good time to be doing it but we have no intention of finishing that now.
"There are still eight games to go in the league and we need to carry our present run of results right to the very last game.
"I am sure it is going to go right down to the wire, so there is no way we will be taking our foot off the gas just yet."
Along with most of the United squad, Carrick has played a part in the previous three successful championship quests.
On the road to them all there have been tricky moments, or days when games have not gone quite to plan.
The key to emerging with the ultimate prize is to react positively in times of strife, knowing games can still be changed right down to the last seconds.
It is a lesson Arsenal seem to be learning, judging by their recent results. And United's history is peppered with last-gasp victories, pulled out of the ashes of potential defeat.
"You have to be patient during matches," added Carrick. "Traditionally this club has always played to the last few minutes. We have always believed we will score goals.
"Sometimes it is harder than others but the knowledge of doing it in the past does help."
United have to end a three-match losing streak against Liverpool if they are to retain leadership of the Premier League this weekend. On each of those occasions, Nemanja Vidic has been sent off.
The odds favour a home win given the struggles Rafael Benitez's men have endured during a campaign in which they were expected to launch a concerted title bid, only to end up battling against the odds to preserve their top-four status.
However, as Park Ji-sung is acutely aware, victory will not come easily for the Red Devils.
"We are looking forward to the game against Liverpool. You can feel the atmosphere is different for a game against Liverpool than for other games," said the South Korea midfielder. "You know the history and the rivalry.
"There have been some great games between the two teams and we lost at Anfield earlier this season so there is an element of revenge.
"But we are ready to play against them and this time I hope we show our strength."