Sir Alex vexed in victory
Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United’s defence must improve after the Reds recorded a dramatic 4-3 win over newly-promoted Reading on Saturday.
The boss cut a frustrated figure at the Madejski Stadium, where his side twice came from behind to seal yet another thrilling comeback and retain top spot in the Barclays Premier League.
Victory was bittersweet, however, having conceded three soft goals to Brian McDermott’s struggling side and as a result, Sir Alex was brutally honest in match assessment after the final whistle.
“I thought it was going to be a record score in the Premier League at half-time,” the boss told ESPN and MUTV. “It was unbelievable. It was really bad defending and the worst we’ve been this season. We need to sort that out. Every time the ball came near our box you were just praying!
“We never competed for a cross, but in fairness to Reading they have great deliverers of the ball – [Nicky] Shorey whips in fantastic crosses. But we should have been doing better. We could have been battered today, but thankfully we are always scoring goals and that is rescuing us every time. Wayne [Rooney] was fantastic in the first half, as was Robin [van Persie] and Ashley Young. Ashley is right back to form and he gave them a really hard time.
“We brought Chris Smalling on which made a big difference in terms of height and defending their set pieces, though they didn’t get as many in the second half.
“We should have finished the game off with some of the opportunities that we had and it should have been 5-3 at half-time when the ball was over the line from Robin’s shot. In the first half, I said to myself that it would be a miracle if we win this one. I’m just glad that we did.
“It is not a question of our character at all, not with these boys. It’s down to us and if you make mistakes like that when you are defending, you are going to have to perform rescue jobs every week and today was yet another rescue job. There were still a lot of plus points in the sense of the boys never gave in and they showed a great determination to get over the line. And that’s what it was about today – getting over the line.”
However frustrating the performance might have been, victory at the Madejski Stadium was hugely important after title rivals Chelsea lost to West Ham and Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, meaning the Reds now hold a three point advantage at the top.
“I think it was important to win, knowing the results from earlier,” Sir Alex admitted afterwards. “But you have still got to win your game and today was a real cliff-hanger for us, but fortunately we got the three points.”