Too soon to call Premier League title for Manchester United says Wayne Rooney

Striker aware nine-point cushion could quickly evaporate

Wayne Rooney does not intend to start assessing Manchester United's Premier League title credentials until the finishing post is in sight.

United have a built up a formidable nine-point lead over Manchester City and moved 16 clear of Chelsea with their win at Fulham last weekend.

Had it not been for their dramatic collapse last term, when they managed to blow an eight-point advantage in the space of just four games to hand the initiative to City, most observers would now be writing United up as champions already.

But Rooney has no intention of falling into that trap.

And with an Old Trafford encounter with his former club Everton on Sunday, whose fightback in the corresponding fixture last season blew the door open for City, the 27-year-old is adopting a blinkered approach to the situation.

"Results are the most important thing now," he said.

"Look at Manchester City against QPR. They should have got the win, had a lot of chances but ended up dropping two points.

"That could quite easily have happened to us against Southampton the following night.

"It proves we have to keep picking up the points when we can.

"Once it comes down to the last four or five games, then we will see what position we are in and work out what we have to do."

This is the moment City have been waiting for, though.

United must fight against the distraction of Wednesday's trip to Madrid - and that mouth-watering reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo - in order to maintain their present position.

It means that even more emphasis than usual will be placed on Sir Alex Ferguson's injury bulletin.

The bout of shingles that prevented Phil Jones joining up for England Under-21 duty this week is an obvious cause for concern, while Danny Welbeck was spotted with a minor limp as he left Wembley last night.

There will also be an assessment of the condition of Shinji Kagawa following his return from Japan's friendly with Latvia and Javier Hernandez, who was on duty in Mexico, to determine what part they will play in next week's drama.

The fact Ferguson gave the green light to Rooney completing the full 90 minutes of England's victory over Brazil last night suggests he may be spared further exertion this weekend, although, as the forward pointed out, he is not the only one at United who gets their hands dirty when the graft has to be done.

"We don't have anyone who doesn't want to do the work," he said.

"We all look at the statistics after the game to see how much running we have done and are well aware of everything we do.

"There is no hiding place with all the technology and stuff."

Ferguson has still not forgotten how his side twice established a two-goal cushion against Everton last season and were unable to close out the contest.

It has been a similar story this term, only United have generally found a way to squeeze out a succession of unconvincing victories.

Rooney has no answer to a conundrum Ferguson has grown increasingly sick of trying to find a solution to.

However, while he, Robin van Persie and Hernandez in particular continue to find the net on a regular basis, the damage should not be too extensive.

"I can't put my finger on why we are not killing teams off," said Rooney.

"We have scored plenty of goals. It is the most number we have scored at this stage of the season.

"We have conceded too many and have done throughout the season.

"But that is the way we have been set up to play. We have to just keep our scoring going."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border