Fergie praises United's 'champion' spirit

25 September 2011 01:35

Sir Alex Ferguson believes his Manchester United team "played like champions" despite seeing their perfect start to the new Premier League campaign end in a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.

Peter Crouch equalised for the home side, his first goal since joining City for a club record £10 million in the summer, cancelling out a first-half goal from Nani as the defending champions dropped points for the first time this season.

However, United still moved to the top of the table, above neighbours City, and earned the praise of their manager.

"We had good chances to win the match," said Ferguson. "There were two parts to it, they keep you under pressure and we dealt with it quite well. You expect, if they are going to score, it is going to be from a set piece, they have so many big lads in the team.

"But in attack, we showed good play and maybe should have scored more than once. But maybe a draw is a fair result. Today, making all the changes maybe unsettled us a little bit. We've usually got a good record at Stoke.

"It was a good goal from Nani, he is always a threat. But I was pleased with the performance of the lads. They played like real champions in every sense and battled hard. They weren't cowed by them so we are quite pleased."

Ferguson lost Wayne Rooney to a hamstring injury on Friday and then saw defender Jonny Evans injured in the pre-game warm-up before forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was lost to injury less than 10 minutes into the game.

"It is not easy with the changes," added Ferguson. "With Chicharito you get penetration and speed, that was a loss.

"With Jonny, he got an ankle injury yesterday, we had a nightmare training session with Carrick, Rooney and Evans. Evans thought he would be ok but in the warm up he was no use so we had to make that change.

"A hamstring is difficult, not a serious one but I don't think Wayne will available for next week, I think more than a week out."

Ferguson was less gracious about Crouch, however, and claimed that the 6ft 7in forward is a persistent fouler.

"Crouch fouls all the time, he gets huffy but he jumps on top of defenders all the time," said Ferguson.

"He has been doing that for years, referees know that. He maybe caught Phil Jones for the goal but he is a definitely a handful in the air."

Crouch paid tribute to the attitude displayed by his new club and was understandably happy to have opened his account.

"It's always nice to get your first goal for a new club and against Manchester United it is really pleasing," he said.

"I have never known a team spirit like it here, to be honest, and I have been at a few clubs. The willingness to work is amazing. I probably should have scored another.

"Since I have been here I have never known a character and a willingness to work like Stoke. The manager instills it. When I first signed it, he said I had to be part of that. That's why we have got the result against Manchester united, that willingness to work and that bit of quality too."

Source: AFP

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