Phil Jones has insisted Manchester City must only look to when they won their first Premier League title to see how a race to be crowned Champions can change dramatically.
The English defender was a youngster in 2012 when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side were beaten on goal difference in the last minute of the league season by Manchester City, who scored late on against Queens Park Rangers through Sergio Aguero.
Ferguson told his players that day to never allow a situation like that to happen again, and Jones, as one of the youngest squad players at the time, is known to have taken it to hart.
Jose Mourinho’s Man United side now sit 12 points behind City thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win against relegation strugglers Stoke City on Monday. City had been beaten 4-3 by Liverpool in a dramatic game on Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s side’s first domestic defeat this season.
Jones says United can use their own downfall in 2012 as inspiration for this season, having blown an eight-point lead to allow City an historic title.
“Football’s football, never say never,” the United defender told the Telegraph. “I remember in my first season we were eight points clear, absolutely cruising, no way we’d let the lead slip and we lost it on the final day. Football’s football.
“People can say what they want but we’ll continue to be positive and push forward. You never know. It happened in 2012 to us so why not? It was a big, big game for us on Monday with points to be played for and teams dropping points around us. It’s another big game on Saturday against Burnley.”
It would require a twist of almost unimaginable amounts. City would need a huge collapse and United would need a near-perfect second half of the season with 15 games remaining.
The Reds lost stupid points with draws over the festive period to Leicester City, Burnley and Southampton. Had they not done so, they’d be firmly in the title race now, though still behind City.
Star midfielder Paul Pogba said they cannot look at their past results and must concentrate on just winning now. They’ll need to do so again and again while City drop points to win the title in what would be one of the biggest turnarounds ever in the history of England’s top flight.