May 4 2012
Manchester United defender Phil Jones is refusing to abandon his Premier League title dream.
Following Monday's crushing defeat at Manchester City, United now need to record massive wins over Swansea and Sunderland in their final two matches, or hope Newcastle or QPR avoid defeat against Roberto Mancini's men. But United, who were eight points clear with just four games to go, now sit in the painful position of requiring help from others.
Jones, one of the few members of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad yet to taste title glory, is not giving up just yet, though. He said: "We didn't play to our best on Monday, which was disappointing. But make no mistake about it, we are still there."
He continued: "We are on level points with them (City). Only goal difference separates us at the moment and we have seen already this season there have been so many twists and turns. Don't be surprised if you see a few more."
United's customary resilience was on show on the training ground in the middle of the week, once their task was obvious. Jones reports there has been no suggestion of anyone feeling sorry for themselves.
He said: "Obviously on Tuesday the lads were gutted and massively disappointed. But we have moved on quickly, pushed it to one side and put it right in training. There are still a lot of bubbly characters about. There is no point dwelling on it. It has happened. It has gone. We move on from it and are looking forward to the game at the weekend."
And United know from their own experience how difficult facing Newcastle can be.
After all, they managed to secure a single point from their two meetings with the Magpies this term and were thumped on Tyneside at the beginning of January, suffering a comprehensive three-goal mauling even though they were facing a team who did not have 13-goal striking phenomenon Papiss Cisse in their ranks.
It promises to be a difficult Sunday for United, who must somehow manage to retain focus on their own encounter with Swansea knowing their destiny is being shaped somewhere else in a match that concludes 30 minutes before theirs is about to start.
"We have to concentrate on what we can do," said Jones. "We have to win the two games, take six points and see where that takes us. I am sure what is happening at Newcastle will be in the back of everyone's minds but there is no point sitting there watching their game. I don't think it will be on in the dressing room because we have to prepare properly."