Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has sought to deflect attention away from the misdemeanours of his high-profile team-mates.
Mario Balotelli has come in for criticism for his behaviour on and off the field, culminating in his red card in the crucial defeat at Arsenal earlier this month.
While Carlos Tevez's explosive return to action has only highlighted what a huge loss his self-imposed exile has been for City this season.
But the England international defender feels it is not helpful to single out Balotelli for criticism for his role in City falling behind in the title race.
In particular, Lescott feels the player's youth should be taken into account.
"I think it's a bit harsh to solely blame Mario," Lescott told Sky Sports News. "He's a young player and he's going to make mistakes - we all did at that age.
"Obviously he's disappointed what happened with Arsenal but hopefully he's learnt from that."
Not dwelling on the past
And the 29-year-old defender is also keen not to speculate on what might have been had Tevez made himself available for selection.
The Argentine has returned to the fold in recent weeks, scoring four goals in just two Premier League starts including a hat-trick at Norwich on Saturday.
But Lescott insists: "We're not dwelling on the past. Who's to say that if Carlos had stayed he wouldn't have got injured and missed the rest of the season.
"We're just grateful that he's back and playing for Man City and scoring goals."
United can extend their lead to eight points with victory at home to Everton on Sunday before City travel to bottom club Wolves later that day.
Lescott has not given up hope of securing the Premier League title this season but he is not expecting former clubs Everton and Wolves to provide any dramatic changes in the race.
He added: "No disrespect to Everton and Wolves but we'd both like to think that we could win those games. So that means there is more emphasis on the derby.
"No matter what we're going to have to win that game if we want to win the league and take control of our own destiny."