- Premier League
Title pedigree the difference - Schmeichel
Peter Schmeichel believes Manchester United's championship pedigree has been the driving force behind their return to the top of the Premier League table and Manchester City's recent slide in form.
The blue half of Manchester had been on track to celebrate a first league title since 1968 after an incredible start to the season, but their challenge has stalled since the turn of the year and now United find themselves on the verge of a 20th top-flight championship.
Schmeichel, who ended his career at Man City shortly after an eight-year spell at Old Trafford, could not explain exactly what had gone wrong for a City side that began March with a two-point lead over United but now find themselves eight points behind with six games remaining.
The former United captain, who won the Treble with the club in 1999, is not surprised that Sir Alex Ferguson was able to reel in Roberto Mancini's side, given City's inexperience of the pressure of a title run-in.
"At the start of the season you're fresh, everyone's fighting for places in that team - and they've got so many good players in that squad - it's relentless," Schmeichel said. "You get momentum winning, you score, and you score and you score.
"But you never win anything in October, November, December. You have to carry that on into the new year and it's difficult if you haven't been there before - not only as a player, but the manager has to have played all of his cards right at the right time. That takes experience.
"To win the Premier League you need that experience, you need to have been there a few times. There's a reason why Man United keep coming back, and there's a reason why certain clubs are not in the running for titles, because it's so difficult.
"It [the season] is ten and a half months, not three or four months. You don't win anything before the end of the season. This is what Man United knows and very few other clubs know."
United face City at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 in what had long been billed as a title showdown. As Schmeichel sees it, however, it is now United's title to lose.
"We're a point away from how we won the championship last year - 80 points last year, 79 now. Man City are on 71, which is where they finished last year; runners-up Chelsea got 71 as well.
"If you open up a gap like that at this point in time, you should win it. I'd be very disappointed, along with everyone else who is concerned about Manchester United, if we don't win it."