Sir Alex savours victory
Sir Alex Ferguson feels ending Manchester City’s long unbeaten run at home made Manchester United’s derby victory taste especially sweet.
The Blues had not lost in the Barclays Premier League at the Etihad Stadium since 20 December 2010 when Everton won 2-1 there. Thirty-seven games later, their impressive sequence was shattered by Robin van Persie’s last-gasp free-kick winner, after Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta had cancelled out Wayne Rooney’s first-half brace.
“We’ve done it to City in the past of course but this was special simply because they hadn’t lost at home for two years,” said Sir Alex. “Both of us are contenders at the top of the league and it was an incredible game, you couldn’t take your eyes off it.
“The intensity, passion, competitiveness… everything was there. And you’ve got to give credit to City for the way they keep going and for scoring late goals. They’ve done it again today against us. Fortunately we got the last one that counted.
“You know Robin’s capable of that. It took a little deflection but it was a wicked hit and I’m really delighted it’s flown in.”
When asked if he felt the Reds were worthy winners, the boss replied: “Absolutely. I think we played very well. I thought we were really fantastic today with some of our football and the game should have been out of sight in the second half with the number of chances we had.
“It’s a funny game, football – it would have been 3-0 with a goal [by Ashley Young] that was perfectly onside. Instead they go up the park and score [to make it 2-1] within minutes. That’s the kind of game football is, it can kick you in the teeth that way.
“I also thought we should have had a penalty kick because I thought Patrice Evra was brought down.
“But there’ll always be controversial decisions in a match like that because there are so many things happening.”
Sir Alex felt the performances of United’s wingers and strikers were key, although he also had praise for the way his team defended in the derby after lambasting the display at Reading.
“I thought our front four did well in all their different ways,” the manager told MUTV. “As I said a couple of occasions back, Wayne needs games and that’s why I played him on Wednesday against Cluj. We were hoping that Antonio would be fit, he was touch and go but he wanted to play and showed again what a fantastic asset he is to us. Van Persie kept them on the back foot all the time and I thought Ashley Young played a great part.
“I thought attacking-wise we did very well. And of course after all the controversy about our defending, I thought we defended well today, I really did. City kept fighting, they kept battling and they’ve got this great record of scoring late goals.
“City scored a second goal and they deserved it. At that point, you’re saying to yourself, ‘I’ll take the draw.’ But up to that point, I thought we were far better than them.”
Whether United will prove to be better than City over the course of the season remains to be seen. But for now, Sir Alex is happy to have registered an important win in the title race after moving six points clear of the Reds’ main rivals.
“When you count the points up in May, I hope it [this win] is significant. Derby games like today are significant if you win them, there’s no question about that. I hope it’s really significant come the end of the season.”