Boss: Focus won us the title
Sir Alex Ferguson attributes United’s 20th league title to the steely focus within his squad.
Having missed out on the title in such dramatic circumstances last term, the Reds bounced back in record-breaking fashion and mercilessly marched to glory this time around – demonstrating the character of champions for all to see.
“The players’ focus was fantastic this season,” Sir Alex said. “They didn’t get themselves annoyed by what happened last season. A lot of teams – most teams in the country – would have melted. But not this bunch.
“They went on and did what Manchester United expects of them and raised the bar. You could go on and on and on about losing a title, and we’ve had to do that in my time. I think our consistency for the last 20 years has been unbelievable. It’s been a marvellous performance. We’ve got 84 points with four games left – fantastic.
“The one thing I said to them at the start of the season was: ‘Make sure you do not lose on goal difference again’. Last season was the first time we’ve ever lost on goal difference. We’ve always had a superior goal difference to all our opponents. That was the point where I realised that was the challenge: our goal difference must be better than theirs across the road.”
Detractors continue to insist that the manager’s latest batch of champions does not stand comparison with its illustrious forebears, but Sir Alex gives short shrift to such a notion and insists that his squad has a bright future ahead of them.
“I think it’s dead easy to say that,” he shrugged. “Nostalgia plays tricks on people’s minds, without doubt. You do it yourself. How many times have you said: ‘Ah, when I was a boy, things weren’t the same’?
“Put it in context: we’ve now got 84 points with four games left and we’ve never done that. We’ve won most of our games, drawn three, lost four and the goal [van Persie’s second] tonight… it doesn’t matter where you place that in terms of all the great goals we’ve scored, from David Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Eric Cantona…
“That pedestal is there, the players have joined that pedestal. We’ve got some young, exciting players – you’ve seen how De Gea’s improved over the season into an outstanding goalkeeper, young Rafa, you saw Jones tonight… arguably the way he’s looking, he could be our best ever player.”
The headlines, however, belonged to a more established United star. Having scored the goals that propelled the Reds’ early charge for the title, as well as the brilliant hat-trick which sealed it, Robin van Persie inevitably drew plaudits from his manager.
“Robin’s been unbelievable,” said Sir Alex. “He had that dry spell where he hadn’t scored for a few weeks but the penalty kick at Stoke brought it back. He was unbelievable tonight, unbelievable. Fantastic.
“He has to take a lot of the credit – his goals tell you that and his performance levels tell you that. I’m sure Robin would be saying what a great bunch of players I’ve got with me – they’re a great bunch of players.”