Ferguson: City's title a motivation
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted the fact Manchester United lost their Premier League title to Manchester City last season provided added incentive to get it back.
If United overcome relegation-threatened Aston Villa at Old Trafford tonight, it will clinch a record 20th championship. As they will still have four games remaining, it completes an admirable recovery from that gut-wrenching end to the previous campaign.
"We had a big job to do," said Ferguson. "The way we lost it, and the fact it was City, gave us an incentive. You have to admire the focus we have shown this season. We are resilient and the consistency has been good."
He added: "Like all the previous teams, they never give in. That is a fact. It is the history of the club more than anything. Once they have been here two or three years, the players buy into it. These are the qualities that have helped them to be where they are just now."
Not that Ferguson will be declaring the season over even if the champagne corks are popping in the home dressing room. The Scot intends to keep his men driving on, eager to eclipse the Premier League points record of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, who amassed 95 points in 2005.
"There won't be any slacking off," said Ferguson. "(The record) is not beyond us at all. Can Manchester United win five games in a row? How many times have we done that?"
Ferguson's longevity allows him to plan ahead in a manner most of his counterparts cannot. For instance, in January he secured the services of Wilfried Zaha, knowing he could afford to leave the England Under-21 winger on loan at Crystal Palace, furthering his education in the Eagles' Championship play-off push.
And Ferguson is also keen to offer praise to striker Javier Hernandez, perhaps the most vulnerable member of his strikeforce given how highly the Mexican is regarded across Europe and his relatively low number of key starts.
"We hope he feels as though he has made a contribution because we do," said Ferguson. "It is not easy picking players when you have a squad of 26 and every one is an international.
"But Javier has scored 16 goals and when he came on at West Ham the other night his movement was terrific. He has got that in his locker all the time. His enthusiasm to play is always there."