Phil Jones believes Manchester United have taken lessons from their Premier League heartbreak last season and will not repeat their mistakes. Sir Alex Ferguson's troops will be top of the Premier League this Christmas no matter what the result against Swansea on Sunday, with the Red Devils six points clear of fierce local rivals Manchester City.
However, United know they cannot afford to relax after throwing away an eight-point advantage over City last season with just six games remaining and consequently seeing Roberto Mancini's men snatch the title in dramatic style on the final day. Defender Jones says it is crucial his side continue to push on rather than getting complacent in the top spot.
"I don't think we can think like that," he told the Daily Express.
"There are numerous games left yet. Last season was a prime example so we have got to keep on our toes and play the way we did against Sunderland. "The manager talks a lot about the Christmas period being one of the toughest spells of the season. To be in a strong position at the turn of the year is vital. We're in a great position in the league now, but we need to maintain our good form and ensure we stay there.
"We have a real impetus from winning the derby match against City and now we must make the most of the position we are in." Jones says he and his team-mates are desperate to avoid a repeat of last season, when they thought they had secured the trophy only for City to score a late winner in their game against QPR to edge the prize on goal difference. He said: "It was crazy to be part of that final day. You went from high to low in the space of about 10 seconds. We thought we'd done it and then we hadn't.
"But I think we've bounced back from that, got over it and started the season really well - albeit with a few hiccups here and there - and now we're in a strong position. It was a miserable afternoon, as you can imagine, but the manager just told us: '
Always remember this experience and don't let it happen again'. "You have to learn from it, even though it hurt at the time. It's a great lesson and a harsh learning curve, but all you can do is go out and try to win the next one.
That's what the players at this club have always done and that's what we're trying to do this season.
"We were very unfortunate to lose out on the league last season. We had to try to eradicate that feeling of disappointment in the recent derby and to a certain degree we did that, but that feeling will only fully be gone if we pick up the trophy at the end of the season."