Manchester United curbed their natural attacking instincts in order to shore up their shaky backline, according to back-four stalwart Rio Ferdinand.
The Red Devils started their campaign by conceding a remarkable 39 goals in 28 games, but since the turn of the year have limited their opposition to just 13 in 18 outings.
Ferdinand admits the dismal record in the first-half of the season was not lost on the United camp – and they promptly decided to do something about it.
“We feel more solid as a team,” Ferdinand told PA Sport. “At the beginning of the season we were playing open, expansive football, which I am sure was good for the fans to watch.
“But, being a defender, my first instinct is to defend and keep clean sheets. We weren’t able to do that.
“We addressed it. That is the most pleasing point and now we are benefitting from it.”
Should United secure victory against nearest challengers Manchester City – who are some 15 points behind the Red Devils – they will only need a draw to wrap up Premier League glory.
And Ferdinand insists the previous season’s last-gasp defeat to the Blues in the title race does not serve as any extra motivation – winning is just part of United’s DNA.
“We are not any more hungry because of what happened last season,” he added. “That is just the way we are.
“The mentality of this club, driven by the manager, is that you have to win and you have to be challenging for every single competition you go in for.
“That has been the case since I have been here – it will never change.”
Picture courtesy of Илья Хохлов, via Wiki Commons, with thanks.