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MICHAEL Carrick has thrown Manchester United's name in the ring as potential Premier League title winners this season and current table-topper Jose Mourinho agrees.

"There is still a long time to go - not even 50% of league is played," Mourinho told reporters. "People with less than 10 points difference are in the title race," he added.

Carrick believes that Manchester United are perfectly positioned coming into the frantic holiday fixture programme to launch a serious title challenge.

"I don't want to say we are going to win the league, but certainly at this point, it is what we are aiming to do," Carrick said. "We are not just looking to be happy for top three or top four.

"We want to be looking, over Christmas and into January, to be up there and then taking from there. But winning the league has to be the aim.

"At this stage of the season, we are exactly where I think we should be and talking to the lads, we have that mentality that we want, and expect, to be challenging.

"It's not a case of thinking that third is great because we have improved. We are looking past that and want to be challenging right up at the top."

Carrick thinks that Manchester United have survived the the dip which followed Alex Ferguson's exit and have found the right man in Louis van Gaal.

"He has an aura about him which means you can tell he is the boss without him even speaking, which is important, especially at a club like this. Louis has that presence which gives off the sense that, if you do it my way, we'll win. It is a great thing to have," he said.

"You take a knock, but last season hasn't affected the mentality that this club has built up over the years. I don't believe you lose that after just one bad season.

"The run of wins games gives you confidence. Confidence is a huge thing in any sport."