Wayne Rooney: beating Man City would make title more satisfying
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney says winning the Premier League this year would be more satisfying because of Manchester City's challenge.
Rooney said United' s "dented pride" in the 6-1 home thrashing by City, and watching their neighbours top the table since October, has spurred them on.
"We have stuck in there and kept going, kept working and we've gone above them," he told BBC Football Focus.
"If we can win this league it will be very satisfying for all the players."
Asked directly whether it would make it more satisfying to win this season because they would be beating City, Rooney was emphatic.
"Yes, of course," he said. "There was one stage [when] we weren't expected to win the league, which is mad when you are talking about Man United.
"It is great we are back on top and the aim is to stay there."
Reflecting on the "nightmare" defeat by City in October, Rooney admitted the result had really hurt.
"Yes, of course. It dents your pride," he said.
"We are all proud people and we don't want to lose like that, particularly at home against your closest rivals. It was a nightmare game for us.
"It was important we came back well and strong from that. I think the next six games after that were one-nil victories, which was important so we put it out of our minds and look forward.
"I hope we don't experience a day like that again."
The 26-year-old's rich form has helped United climb above Roberto Mancini's side, and he scored one of his best goals of the season on Thursday in the club's otherwise disappointing Europa League exit to Athletic Bilbao.
And Rooney said that consistency and happiness has been the key to his 28 goals in 33 games for the club in all competitions this season.
"I am happy [and] I am playing well," he said. "The team are playing well and I am really settled and enjoying my football.
"It's important you try and get that consistency, which I feel over the last few years I've managed to do better than when I first started playing."
The forward, who had tweeted that he wanted Harry Redknapp to be given the job, also added he plans to have a greater influence in the dressing room as he will be missing the first two games of the Championships because of suspension.
"I have to make sure I am getting among the players and in the spirit and try to be more of a person round the dressing room and hotel to get people to relax more, as well as on the pitch when I come back," he said.
Watch Football Focus, Saturday March 17, 1130 GMT on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.