Neville: We'll only have ourselves to blame
Gary Neville says Manchester United will only have themselves to blame if their bid for a record fourth straight league title fails on Sunday. Although United have succeeded in taking the battle to the last day, unless Wigan can claim an unlikely point at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will end the Red Devils' recent dominance of the Premier League. It is a scenario that has been on the cards since before Christmas, by which time United had already lost five games and seemed incapable of adapting to life without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. The improvement since then has been impressive, with the exception of one chronic fortnight which included a European exit, a home defeat to Chelsea and a draw at Blackburn that in the end, looks to have signalled the death knell to their title bid. Any lingering hope almost certainly disappeared with Liverpool's failure to produce an adequate performance against Carlo Ancelotti's side at the weekend. And whilst there were some grumblings of discontent from the Old Trafford faithful about the Merseysiders' poor performance, Neville prefers United to look at themselves. "When you leave it in the hands of others you have to take the punishment for it," he told MUTV. "We hope that something happens on Sunday and we live in hope. If you had asked us after the Blackburn game we would have said all hope was gone. "But we will be kicking ourselves on Sunday if it doesn't go our way. The mistakes we have made have been unusual. Hopefully we don't live to regret it." Not that it has been a season without its highlights. The Carling Cup remains fourth on the list of priorities but in winning it, United denied Manchester City a chance to reach their first major final since 1976. And, in Wayne Rooney's 34-goal contribution, the Red Devils know they have another genuine world-class talent on their books following Ronaldo's world record exit for Real Madrid. Rooney scooped a hat-trick of personal awards at last night's club player-of-the-year ceremony to go alongside the PFA and Football Writers' accolades that have already headed his way. "I have progressed since I have been here," said Rooney, in typically understated fashion, leaving it up to Sir Alex Ferguson to pay a more fulsome tribute. "The great thing about Wayne is that he always plays his part for the team," said the United boss. "His energy and workrate is related to the team ethic. "He produces magnificent moments and his goalscoring has improved. "He is able to concentrate on being in the box more than he used to. That is to do with maturity. "He always wanted to be all over the pitch. Wide left, wide right, everywhere. "Now he is using the energy the right way and the results are showing." Ferguson has already begun planning for the future by signing Chris Smalling from Fulham and Javier Hernandez, who will be part of the Mexico World Cup squad in South Africa this summer. More changes are likely too given Ferguson's statement he feels it is time to freshen up his squad. The futures of a number of senior players, including Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Anderson, are bound to be mentioned, although not those of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Neville, who last week joined his fellow old-timers in signing a one-year contract extension. "There was doubt," he said about his continued stay at Old Trafford. "If you watched me play around Christmas there was doubt. "But I have enjoyed playing over the last few months. "I have played in a lot of the bigger games and stayed fit. That has been key. "The last couple of years have been frustrating due to injury. If it had gone on like that this season it would probably have been my last. "But whilst the club want me to stay I will."
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