When the fixture list for the 2012/13 season of the Barclays Premier League, the Manchester derby last night was immediately earmarked as a title decider with the showdown at Old Trafford set to have a huge say in the outcome of the title race.
It wasn’t the case this season. Despite City beating United 2-1 last night, United are still 12 points atop the Premier League.
With such a commanding lead, the champions elect could perhaps be forgiven for lacking a certain amount of motivation but speaking to the Daily Mail, Wayne Rooney has said he will be using the dramatic events of last season’s to help push United towards the title.
“To lose the league in the last second was a bad feeling,” admitted Rooney.
“But when you’re at a club like United, you have to be full of motivation and desire to win every year.
“That comes from the manager and all the players are aware of that. The club and the players have to be full of desire and that’s why the club has been so successful.”
United have responded in emphatic fashion to last season’s huge disappointment, vanquishing all in their domestic path winning a record 25 out of their opening 30 matches and looking near their ruthless, title-winning best.
Last nights loss to City was the first loss in the league since a defeat to Norwich back in November.
It has hardly been a vintage campaign for the 27-year-old Rooney. The England international has played a sizeable role but has been somewhat overshadowed by the excellent Robin Van Persie and he has suffered from an uncharacteristic number of injuries.
But United’s record scorer in Manchester derbies is determined to ensure United retain their huge advantage.
“One bad game and everything could fall and so we go out and play each game with a positive attitude,” added Rooney.
“You have to stay focused. You have to make sure that we keep doing our job and keep are concentration.”
Rooney’s form and fitness have been in the spotlight this season and his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has been the subject of much speculation, especially after his omission from the starting eleven against Real Madrid last month.
Many have hinted that the fires don’t burn as bright for Rooney anymore and that without the ferocious temper shown in his early footballing career, he is a far less effective player – something that Rooney wholeheartedly disagrees with.
He continued: “I have always wanted to win and it comes from how I was brought up.
“If I was losing against my mates I could lose my cool if things went against me and now I am a pro that is the same. You need to be like that I think.”
There were fans last night who said immediately after the derby that United should simply get rid of Rooney – a baffling but not unsurprising statement. Fans would never have said that before his contract saga.
But it seems like Rooney still has his desire to help push United towards the 20th title, something they are currently limping towards after a poor run of form.