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The Scot has praised his players for their focus and team spirit this season and says he has never watched a repeat of his side's infamous defeat to their rivals from 2011

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says losing the Premier League title to rivals Manchester City has motivated his players to improve as he prepares to welcome Roberto Mancini's men to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils go into the game 15 points ahead of the reigning champions and Ferguson has praised his players for the way they have responded to the disappointment of missing out on the title on the final day of last season.

"We’ve improved," he told reporters. "That's been the difficulty for City. Even if their points tally was as good as it was this time last season, it wouldn't have matched ours anyway.

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"So you have to give us credit for that: 25 wins out of 30 shows the conviction of the players' performance.

"The way we lost the title last season resonated with a lot of people in the club. The only thing you can do after that kind of thing is do better.

"That's what the players did. They've been focused, their team spirit has been terrific and there was a definite sense of purpose in terms of getting the title back.

"The important thing is the ability to recover and they've shown that. The players have achieved a lot this season. Their approach to winning the next match has been very positive.”

The Scot also insisted that a repeat of City’s famous 6-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford was unlikely, and admitted he had never watched a repeat of that game.

"No I'm not into self-flagellation," he added. "It happened, we threw it away, committed suicide in the game. But it'll be different this time."

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