Carrick: We can't drop points
Midfielder Michael Carrick says Manchester United must avoid last season's slip-ups if they are to stay in the Premier League title race.
United lost eight times last term - including successive defeats to Chelsea and losses at Liverpool and relegated Burnley - yet still only lost their Premier League crown by a single point.
The Red Devils open their quest to reclaim the championship against Newcastle at Old Trafford tomorrow, already playing catch-up on Chelsea, who registered a 6-0 win over West Bromwich Albion yesterday.
As Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City also came through their lunchtime showdown without getting beaten and Aston Villa put a troubled week behind them to record a decisive triumph against West Ham United, the top-flight's most highly-fancied teams have already made a statement.
And Carrick feels United will have to follow suit because ground lost in the early weeks might prove hard to make up again.
"The way it looks, you cannot afford to drop too many points," said the midfielder. "Last season was a bit of a freak in terms of how many games both us and Chelsea lost and how many points were dropped.
"The previous few years there wasn't much margin for error and competition is pretty fierce again now. Teams who have finished around the Champions League places are looking to break through and you really have to start firing from the off."
The sheer weight of Manchester City's spending marks them out as a big danger, whilst Carrick also feels Liverpool will be striving hard to make their mark under new boss Roy Hodgson after last season's difficulties.
Yet Carrick still views reigning champions Chelsea as the team to beat. "Chelsea are the champions, so you have to put them right up there" said the 29-year-old. "You have to respect what they have in the squad and what they have achieved over a number of years now.
"The manager has gone on record to say if you finish above Chelsea the chances are you will win the league and he is not usually far wrong with things like that.
"With the players they have brought in, Manchester City's aim is obviously to be up there challenging. In the same way that we have to give Chelsea respect, we give City respect. On paper they have a very good team but that does not always win you leagues, as we have found out ourselves," he added.