Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned his team not to get carried away by believing they can romp to a record English Premier League triumph.
United are 15 points clear at the top after their 1-0 home win over Reading on Saturday had followed defending champions Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat at Everton.
But Ferguson refused to be complacent despite United being in a position to win the title by a record margin.
The 18 points by which United won the 2000 championship from Arsenal remains the largest winning cushion, not only in Premier League history but in the history of top flight English football.
“They can say what they like. You don’t get points or medals for being complacent and we won’t be,” said Ferguson.
“It wasn’t a great performance but we are where we are today is not down to today, it’s down to the previous six months.
“The team has shown great consistency and played a lot of great football and the goal difference over City is big now, 15 points.
“We’ve been playing well this season, it’s been a great season for us. We’re 15 points ahead but it’s the previous six months that have done it for us really.”
Match winner Wayne Rooney echoed his manager and refused to get carried away by the commanding gap, a margin which looks certain to bring them a 20th English league championship.
“You have to be professional. We know we’re in a fantastic position with nine games to go and 15 points clear but we have to go out and do our job week in, week out,” he said.
Victory for United against Sunderland in their next game, in two weeks, coupled with a City defeat would build Ferguson’s side an 18-point advantage ahead of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
A win for United in that fixture, on April 8, would leave City mathematically unable to overhaul United’s point tally in the seven remaining matches.
With an international break before the Sunderland fixture, Ferguson revealed he will use his squad to its full extent as he closes in on yet another trophy with his club.
“That’s the idea,” said Ferguson of the eight changes he made for the Reading game.
“We’ve got players going to internationals. Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) is going down to South America for two games, Antonio Valencia is there for two games. (Shinji) Kagawa has two games away. It’s the travel as much as anything.
“With the programme coming up, why have a big squad if you don’t use it?”
Meanwhile, Reading caretaker manager Eamonn Dolan, who replaced the sacked Brian McDermott ahead of the visit to Old Trafford, revealed that he will meet with the club’s owner Anton Zingarevich to discuss his position.
“The owner has been very clear with me and I have been very clear with him,” said Dolan. “We will sit down early next week.
“He is going to do what’s best for Reading Football Club. He’s very ambitious and really wants to take the club forward. I’m sure that’s what he will do.”