Michael Carrick has urged Manchester United to build the foundations for their season in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League play-off round first-leg tie against Club Brugge.
United missed out on Europe for the first time in 19 years after a disappointing seventh-placed finish in the 2013-14 Premier League season.
However, manager Louis van Gaal delivered a return to Europe’s top table during his debut season in charge, but they must negotiate a tricky tie against the Belgian Pro League side to reach the group stages.
And midfielder Carrick is keen to stress the importance of the double header to United’s campaign.
“It’s going to be a big night on Tuesday. It’ll be a big two games in fact – they could help set us up for the season,” Carrick told United’s official website ahead of the contest at Old Trafford.
“What we have to gain [from winning the tie] is very important, but you approach both matches as any other games.
“We want to win on Tuesday and not concede. Hopefully we can get a good start and take a lead to their place. We’ll be ready.”
United have started the Premier League season in solid, if unspectacular, fashion with 1-0 wins over Tottenham and Aston Villa.
Carrick is hopeful that the team can continue the winning feeling, adding: “It’s about building momentum from the off. It puts us in a decent position at this stage even though it’s early.
“It’s something to build on and it gives us a base to move forward. We know we can play a lot of better and we have the players to do that. I’m confident that will come.
“Performance-wise it wasn’t as good as we’d have liked against Villa, although defensively I thought we did well and they didn’t really have many opportunities.
“These games are vital for us to win. Last season we weren’t winning them so it’s a good sign. There is a lot more to come from us, we expect more and we hope for some better performances.”
Brugge represent an unknown quantity for United, with the two teams having never met in UEFA competition.
Head coach Michel Preud’homme – who worked with United midfielder Marouane Fellaini when the pair were at Standard Liege – guided the club to a second-placed finish in the league last term.
Brugge have already beaten Greek side Panathinaikos to reach the play-off round, but have not played in the group stages of the competition since the 2005-06 season.
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