Phil Jones has warned Manchester City they can still be overhauled in the Premier League title race, just as Manchester United were six years ago.
City’s advantage at the Premier League summit is a sizeable 12 points, though their first top-flight loss of the season to Liverpool on Sunday has at least given the chasing pack a modicum of hope.
United are at the head of that group of challengers having beaten Stoke 3-0 and Jones still remembers when they were in a position as comfortable as City’s current one only to eventually miss out on the crown by virtue of their goal difference.
In ex-Blackburn defender Jones’ first season at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were eight points ahead of City in April with six games to go only to see the title end up across town when Sergio Aguero scored late on against QPR.
Having gone through that experience, Jones knows nothing is yet set in stone as far as this year’s title race goes.
“Football’s football, never say never,” he said.
“I remember in my first season we were eight points clear, absolutely cruising, (everyone thought there was) no way we’d let the lead slip, and we lost it on the final day.
“Football’s football. People can say what they want but we’ll continue to be positive and push forward. You never know. It happened in 2012 to us so why not?”
United’s title bid would receive a boost should they lure Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford from Arsenal this month.
Manager Jose Mourinho has said there is “a chance” for United to land Sanchez this month, with Manchester City understood to have walked away from a deal due to the cost and Antonio Conte having downplayed any possible interest from Chelsea.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, omitted from the United squad against Stoke, could hold the key to that deal after the Armenian’s agent Mino Raiola claimed to The Times a Sanchez switch to United was dependant on his client heading in the opposite direction.
Jones, who called Sanchez “a good player”, insists United’s current squad are paying no heed to a transfer rumour mill they cannot affect.
“We just go about what we do best,” he added.
“Keep playing, it’s not up to us, it’s not down to us. We know just as much as you guys.
“If someone new comes in the door then obviously it’s a positive move for United but it’s not up to us, we just do the business on the pitch.
“He (Sanchez) is a good player. But it doesn’t meant to say he’s going to come to United. We’ll have to see.”