Jose Mourinho's first campaign in the Old Trafford hot seat has regularly veered from promise to frustration.
United have won the EFL Cup in a season that started with Community Shield success, but there remains a chance they could fall short in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Missing out on European football's premier competition for a second successive season would be a huge blow, although Europa League glory would assure them of a place back at the continent's top table.
United's hopes of winning the competition remain on track after Thursday's 1-1 quarter-final first-leg draw at Anderlecht, but Mourinho will not put all his eggs in that basket until a top-four finish is beyond them.
Such an outcome is far from Carrick's mind, with the midfielder scoffing at the suggestion that Sunday's match against leaders Chelsea offers them a chance to lay down an important marker for next season.
"Forget about next season, we have enough to play for this season," the 35-year-old, out of contract in the summer, said.
"We are not looking any further ahead of that. The Premier League top four is still an opportunity.
"People are saying about the Europa League maybe being the best chance for us but you cannot look at it like that. Football is football and a lot can happen. There is no way we can give up on the top four.
"It is still close. Yeah, we have got a tough run-in but it is still close. It is frustrating. If we were really struggling football-wise and were miles away, then in some ways you can't accept it but you can see why you are struggling.
"But we have been playing so well for so long it is just that edge, that little bit of something, to finish teams off.
"As a team and a squad we'll grow and develop that. There's a lot of positives to take from our performances for some months now."
United head into the weekend four points off a Champions League berth, although boast at least one game in hand on all those above them.
Crunch trips to top-four rivals Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham lie in wait in the weeks following Sunday's home clash with Chelsea, who look bound for the title after faltering so badly under Mourinho last term.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Manchester United's Michael Carrick refuses to look beyond this season