Vidic: United now ready to peak
Nemanja Vidic believes it bodes well for Manchester United that they have managed to hit top spot in the Barclays Premier League without finding their peak form on a consistent basis this season.
There have been highlights for the Red Devils - chiefly the seven-goal mauling of Blackburn in November, a thrilling win over Liverpool and a disciplined display against Arsenal.
But most results this term have been ground out, with valuable points gained at Sunderland and Aston Villa, plus a scrambling success at West Brom on New Year's Day compensating for late disappointments at Fulham, Everton and Birmingham.
However, as they approach Sunday's eagerly-awaited trip to Tottenham, United remain unbeaten, knowing they will have to lose twice for nearest challengers Manchester City and Arsenal to muscle their way back into contention.
Little wonder there is a growing feeling at Old Trafford that this could be the season when Sir Alex Ferguson's side register that record 19th league title.
``We definitely have a positive feeling,'' Vidic told Inside United. ``We know that up until the win over Blackburn we hadn't performed as well as we can.
``But from my experience, this sort of time is when we usually come into good form. We all want to win the trophy. Last season was very disappointing. We just need to keep pushing hard and playing well. If we do that, we have a good chance of regaining it.''
The strength Ferguson has at his disposal means that United were able to book an FA Cup fourth-round trip to Southampton at the weekend despite resting Vidic and being without the injured Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar.
In addition, Paul Scholes and John O'Shea have been sidelined for an extended period, while hopes of any kind of comeback for Owen Hargreaves would appear to be fading, given Ferguson can offer no timescale for the England star, who will not enjoy his 30th birthday celebrations later this month.
Not that Vidic is willing to take anything for granted.
There may still be doubt over whether the Serbian will be facing United old-boy David Beckham at White Hart Lane this weekend, but he accepts it will be a tough challenge against one of the most improved sides in what he insists is a tougher league than ever before.
``The quality has improved,'' he said. ``We saw last season how competitive the league is and it's been even more so this year.
``Sides such as Tottenham and Manchester City have raised their games, whilst other teams understand they have to improve if they want to stay in the league because it is so competitive. They have done that. It is a physically strong league and players have raised their game in that way too.''