United's Smalling admits Premier League title 'means more' because of Manchester City challenge

The England defender is desperate to "get those bragging rights for next year" but reveals that United's season has been made more difficult by their frequent injury problems
Chris Smalling has admitted that winning the Premier League title this season "means more" to Manchester United because of the strong challenge mounted by rivals Manchester City.

United currently hold a three-point lead at the top of the table, with eight games still to be played including a potentially decisive clash between the two clubs at Etihad Stadium.

And Smalling has revealed that the United squad are desperate to deny City their first Premier League crown.

"It definitely means more because it's City," Smalling told reporters. "It's down to us two now and it's massive.

"The media build it up and as players we definitely want to win it because we know quite a few of their players.

"It's going to be crucial to get those bragging rights for next year."

United have taken advantage of a recent stutter in City's form to jump to the top of the table, a feat Smalling claims is even more impressive given the amount of injuries manager Sir Alex Ferguson has had to deal with this season.

Darren Fletcher and Nemanja Vidic had their seasons prematurely ended while others such as Anderson and Michael Owen have suffered recurring issues.

"We've probably had enough injuries for most of the teams in this league," Smalling added.

"Luckily we have the squad to be able to cope but it says a lot about Manchester United that no matter the adverse conditions we have, whether it's injuries or a tough run of games, we tend to come through it.

"The manager deserves a lot of credit for that with regards to how he approaches games and uses his players."

Smalling admitted that the squad's younger members have needed to learn quickly this season but believes the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs will help them pull through during the run-in.

"A lot of it is about learning on your feet," Smalling explained.

"I found that last season. Scholes and Giggs are in double figures for titles and in the final five or 10 minutes of matches their experience will brush off on us younger ones."

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