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The Scottish manager reiterated to his players what was expected of them after they were knocked out of the Champions League, with midfielder confident of catching City at the top

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson has held a motivational team talk to remind his players that failure is not an option at Old Trafford.

The meeting was held in the aftermath of United’s disastrous Champions League campaign which saw them knocked out at the group stage following a defeat away to Basel, and Carrick expects the team to take heed of the manager's message by notching up points between now and Christmas.

Carrick told the Daily Mirror: “He sat down with us the other day.

“There was no rant, he just put things into perspective, reminded us what we’re here for and what the club is about.

“It wasn’t a rant or anything like that, it was a simple talk, but the way he does it is like no-one else. It really grabs the attention.

“You could sense the whole room taking in everything he was saying and really wanting to pull together and be prepared for what’s ahead.

“It’s always been the same – we have to be in contention when it matters.

"He’s always had a good response from us in the past and I’m sure he will get one between now and Christmas. That’s definitely our aim.”

The Red Devils may be out of Europe’s biggest competition but it means they can now focus on catching rivals Manchester City and retaining the Premier League title.

The England international added: “City have obviously set the standard and not dropped many points, but there is a cluster of clubs behind them which we’re heading up, so we’re quite happy with the way things have gone.

“We are actually in a better position than last season, in terms of points won and games played, and hopefully we’ll be even closer to City come the end of the year.

“At this stage, it is not all about form, but about winning games and building momentum.

“Of course we’d like to do even better, but hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re winning games by two, three and four-goal margins.

“We’ve seen a lot of big teams move up the table – Tottenham have been on a great run, Arsenal have come on strong and Liverpool are picking up points too.

“It may stay like that for a while – even going into February, March time you can have three or four teams involved, then it ends up being only two.

“The important thing for us is making sure we stick close to those teams and hopefully get that top spot as soon as we can.”

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