Five unlikely title comebacks to hearten eight-points-adrift Man Utd

After failing to win for the third time in four home league games this season Manchester United trail league-leading Arsenal by eight points.

However Red Devils fans will know more than most that such deficits are far from insurmountable despite Premier League title odds of 10/1 as these five hair and tortoise acts from history prove.

1995/96 – Man Utd come from 12 points back to claim the Premier League

The archetypal Sir Alex Ferguson mental hoodoo voodoo struck a Newcastle side who were running away with the top flight at the end of January.

United won 13 of their final 15 games to close out the division by four points from their Kevin Keegan-managed Tyneside rivals.

1997/98 – Arsenal pip United despite a 12-point head-start

Far from impervious to similar implosions the Old Trafford club fell victim to the same old rope-a-dope just two seasons on.

This time it was them who held a 12-point advantage as late as the end of February, but Arsene Wenger insisted his side could still win the league and so they did, with two games to spare.

2002/03 – The Red Devils give Arsenal and Liverpool separate eight-point-plus cushions and still win

Liverpool sat top of the pile after 11 games while after 14 games the Gunners were a whole nine points to the good, remaining ahead by that margin at the turn of the year.

Fergie’s men dropped just 16 points during an 18-game undefeated stretch that began just after Christmas to scythe down the runaway leaders.

2011/12  – Mancini mental mastery allows Man City to overcome an eight-point chasm

Whether the City gaffer’s concession of the title to their rivals with nine games remaining was a planned masterstroke of psychological manipulation or merely the outburst of a disappointed man is a moot point.

However a run of one win in three by United (including defeats to Wigan and most tellingly City themselves) was enough faltering to hand a pressure-free City the trophy.

2011/12  – Reading swap the relegation zone for the Championship title

Not even the most ardent Royal would have anticipated saluting an open-top bus full of Jobi McAnuff and friends when they were languishing in 23rd place after six games.

An astonishing run of 17 wins from 23 games in the season’s second-half turned Brian McDermott’s men in to first play-off challengers, then title contenders, then champions.