Of course we care - Carrick
Instead of three precious points and a platform from which to mount a concerted charge towards a top-four place, Carrick's goal merely ended up being the prelude to more misery as Darren Bent's injury-time leveller sent the hosts spinning to what even David Moyes admitted was their lowest point yet.
After all that has gone before, dropping two points at home to a team adrift at the bottom of the table, coached by the man who was part of Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom team for six years, looks set to cause more worry for United fans.
At the very least, the Â£20million they would expect to pocket from the Champions League looks like being lost, given United are now nine points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.
Players' future - that go far beyond skipper Nemanja Vidic, who has already announced his intention to quit in the summer - are on the line, whilst Moyes himself is suddenly under extreme scrutiny as the chronic form continues.
The sight of Carrick being swamped by ecstatic team-mates following his 80th-minute goal, and Wayne Rooney on his knees in triumph emphasised the depth of feeling amongst the United squad though.
"Of course the players care," said Carrick.
"It is the pride we have in ourselves and each other.
"No-one wants to go through a spell when people are questioning you and things are going wrong.
"We have had enough success over the years that we retain a belief in ourselves even when things are not going so well.
"We keep trying to do the right things, and in the end, you think it will pay off for you.
"We thought it had but it wasn't to be.
"It isn't for the want of trying. It is not a case of not caring. We care just as much, if not more, than anybody else."
The fear for Moyes must be that frustration will eventually boil over.
Javier Hernandez's cryptic Instagram posting: "The time to speak about so many things will come..." does not hint at a positive development given the Mexican has been relegated to the fringes this season.
Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, has started just one game in two months, and stated recently he was fully fit, so his private thoughts would be interesting.
Even the good bits are causing problems.
Yet fitting Mata into a team shape that also includes Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie seems to have stifled all three men to some extent.
Adnan Januzaj - United's player of the season - has been sparingly used of late and all those crosses, an incredible 81 against Fulham, rather than an indication of a team's strength, actually shows up a chronic weakness given a club of that standing should be capable of playing through even the most congested of defences, to create an element of confusion at the very least.
The muddled approach highlights the obvious flaws.
United's defence, so often the cornerstone of success, is now creaking badly, their midfield lacks bite no matter who is deployed there.
Seeing currently injured Marouane Fellaini being escorted through Old Trafford to carry out a corporate demand indicates Moyes' approach to the transfer market has not worked either.
The result just heaps even more pressure on Moyes, who has been consistently backed by the United hierarchy.
"We thought it was going to turn," said Carrick.
"We have thought that all season. We still believe it will but it seems like setback after setback at the moment.
"We have had success over the years. You have to deal with the down times as well.
"It has been a tough season and we are not in a very good position in the league.
"We will pick ourselves up. That is what we do. That is the business we are in."
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