Rio: United must focus solely on own form
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has urged his team-mates to ignore Manchester City and concentrate on their own title bid as they aim to displace their local rivals as Premier League champions.
Ferdinand, 34, believes United were distracted by competing with their neighbours last season, when City won the title on goal difference.
But the Red Devils now have a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table and Ferdinand feels they are learning the lessons from the previous campaign.
"Last year it was new because it was the first time they had challenged properly and there was a lot of focus on Manchester," Ferdinand said. "But we have to make sure we keep our own house in order, make sure we keep ticking off the games. We don't have to focus on anyone else, just ourselves."
Ferdinand also joined in the praise for Robin van Persie, who scored twice in Tuesday's 4-0 win over Wigan to take his tally to 16 league goals, but is adamant that a one-man team cannot win the league and that United have plenty of other strings to their bow.
"No matter how you win the league, it is always mainly down to a group of players rather than one individual," he said. "At the moment he is scoring the goals. Javier [Hernandez] has chipped in the last couple of games.
"Robin is an important player. The manager saw something in him and made it his mission to buy him this summer. At the moment, thankfully, he is doing what he came here to do. He is not only scoring goals. He holds the ball up well and brings others into play. He does a fantastic job.
"But we are not at the end of the season yet. No medals have been handed out. We don't want to jump about too much. Up to now he has done fantastically well but the job is still there to be done."
United squandered an eight-point lead in the title race last season, with a 1-0 defeat at Wigan proving costly, and Ferdinand added: "Last season we made it difficult for ourselves. We saw the problems that we had last time, rectified them and put them to the sword."
Ferdinand and his fellow defenders were criticised when United only kept three clean sheets in the first half of the season but, following Saturday's 2-0 win over West Brom, they have now stopped their opponents scoring in their last two games.
And the veteran centre-back said: "It is a nice feeling. We pride ourselves on clean sheets. More importantly, we have to win games. That has put the clean sheets on the back burner. Two on the spin, the defenders are happy."