Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United’s 3-1 win away at Tottenham proves his side are 'well up for it' in what is set to be a tense Premier League title run-in.
United remain two points behind leaders Manchester City thanks to Wayne Rooney’s goal and a double from Ashley Young, with the top two set to meet in a showdown clash on April 30.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Ferguson said of the race for first place: “I think it’s difficult to say because anything can happen. You can drop surprise points.
“I think that’ll happen, both teams will drop points, but the important thing is not dropping as many as your opponent and we’re experienced, we won’t get nervous, we’re enjoying it and the battling performance we gave today against a very good team tells you that we’re well up for it.”
Ferguson admitted that his side had been below-par for parts of the game, in part due to a strategy that did not pay dividends in the first half.
“I don’t know how to explain it but we certainly carried it off well today,” the 70-year-old observed.
“It was a great performance by Tottenham in the first half – and maybe we got our tactics wrong in the first half – but in the second half we did improve and pushed up further. In the first half we tried to drop off and bring them onto us but it didn’t work.
“[At half-time I told the team] to push up and talk to the back four a bit more, don’t allow them to build their play, which we did much better, but we really needed the second goal to give us the confidence in the game. After that, we played very well.
“We had a bit of luck scoring just before half-time with probably our first strike at goal – a nice finish from Wayne.
“The scoreline at half-time was a killer for Tottenham. They were probably sitting in the dressing-room wondering how they’d gone down 1-0 because they’d played ever so well.”
The Scot praised his players for acquitting themselves well through a difficult run of fixtures, including Sunday’s trip to White Hart Lane.
“Since January we’ve played all the big teams – City in the cup, Liverpool in the cup and league, Arsenal,” he noted. “We’ve had a real busy spell and we’ve come through.
“All credit to the players, they’ve dug in, they’ve played well in most of the games – today was maybe a little disappointing but the one thing that we did do today was show the determination to get the result.
“We’ve dug in, we’ve defended fantastically well, [David de Gea’s] made a fantastic save in the second half – the deflection – and there were a lot of good performances, but the smoothness of the game didn’t come until the second goal.
“We should also consider how good a side Tottenham are. This is only their second defeat at home since the start of the season – their form here has been absolutely fantastic.
“They’ve averaged, in every game they’ve played, 58 per cent possession and that’s big, big figures, that. So it was a massive result and a massive performance by the defenders.”
Ferguson remains optimistic as he welcomes members of his squad back to fitness.
“We know exactly what we have to do,” the coach stated.
“The good thing is that I’ve got players back – Anderson’s back now, [Tom] Cleverley’s back next week, [Chris] Smalling will be fit for Thursday’s game [against Athletic Bilbao], players are coming back, and with a full squad it gives us a better chance.”