Pole position matters to Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged Manchester United to end 2011 at the Barclays Premier League summit.
United romped to an easy 2-0 win at QPR to overhaul Manchester City for four hours ahead of their rivals' home win against Arsenal. Champions United had been playing catch-up since drawing at Liverpool in mid-October and found themselves five points behind the following week after being humiliated 6-1 in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
But despite crashing out of both the Champions League and Carling Cup recently, United have taken 19 Premier League points from 21 to prove they are not prepared to give up their title without a fight. Asked about the significance of going top, manager Ferguson said: "The important thing is to be there on New Year's Day."
He added: "If you're involved right at the top part then you know the second half of the season, we'll relish that."
United have the ideal opportunity to take maximum points over the Christmas period, with games against Fulham, Wigan and Blackburn to come before their first match of 2012 at Newcastle.
Ferguson applauded his side for refusing to "sit and moan" about their shock Champions League demise, although he accused them of wastefulness in a game they could easily have won 6-0.
He said: "If you said before the game, 'Would you take 2-0?', of course we would.
"But on the evidence of today, we should've scored a lot of goals. Queens Park Rangers in their home games have been a real problem to a lot of teams. But we kept them quiet for most of the game and we played some terrific football at times, and I'm pleased with that."
That goal was the perfect stomach settler for Ferguson, who would have been choking on his cornflakes were he to have read a newspaper interview on Sunday morning in which former United captain Roy Keane escalated their recent spat.
But Rangers boss Neil Warnock dismissed Keane, saying: "Do you think Alex Ferguson worries about Roy Keane, Joe Bloggs, the Prime Minister? I don't think he'll have lost any sleep. I wouldn't with a squad like that..."