United Grit Pleases Sir Alan

05 March 2009 09:40
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson highlighted his side's grit, after they came from behind against Newcastle to re-establish their seven-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table. After seeing Chelsea and Liverpool both win on Tuesday night, United found themselves trailing at Newcastle within nine minutes of kick-off after goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's long run without conceding a league goal came to an end. However, they bounced back to run out 2-1 victors at St James' Park to extend their winning run in the competition to 11 games. Ferguson said: "It wasn't a great performance. We got off to a terrible start, and Newcastle were pumped up for it. "We expected that and we should have dealt with it better. "But coming from 1-0 down was a good result for us. It required a lot of grit. "Our football has been better, and we were maybe careless with passing of the ball. "Newcastle knew it was a massive game for them and went about their job in the right way. "We could have been 2-0 down actually. (Obafemi) Martins hit one by the post, and it was a hairy spell for us." The Magpies stunned the visitors, and van der Sar in particular, when they took the lead with the first league goal the Dutchman had conceded in 1,311 minutes of football since November 8. He failed to hold Jonas Gutierrez's shot, and Peter Lovenkrands stabbed home the rebound. Ferguson said: "Edwin says himself he made a mess of it, and they had a couple of near things after that. "It was going to happen some time, and it is out of the road now." The lead lasted just 11 minutes, before Wayne Rooney blasted the visitors back on to level terms, but it was left to Dimitar Berbatov to clinch the victory after Park-Ji-Sung capitalised on Ryan Taylor's 56th-minute error to set him up. United were not at their best but never looked likely to surrender their advantage, despite a late flurry from the hosts. It was just the response the Carling Cup winners needed after last night's results, and Ferguson insists they can handle the pressure. He said: "The teams who play first and get a result will always say 'Pressure on'. "But it doesn't make much difference to us. You have to rely on and trust the players. You have to show patience and experience. "It is nothing new to them." United winger Cristiano Ronaldo found himself on the wrong end of Steven Taylor's flailing arm just before the break, the defender earning a booking and Rio Ferdinand following him after calling for sterner action. It is understood a heated debate continued in the tunnel at the break, although caretaker Newcastle boss Chris Hughton was quick to defend his player. He said: "Anybody who has seen the incident again will have seen where he actually made contact, and he made contact on the top of his shoulder and his neck. "I have had the opportunity to see it again and I am quite sure if anybody here has, they would agree." The defeat, despite a much-improved performance, left Newcastle just a point clear of the drop zone after wins for Stoke, Tottenham and Hull - and Blackburn's point against Everton. Asked if he believes they will survive, Hughton said: "Yes, I do. "It's vital that we put on that type of performance right through to the end of the season. "I was delighted with the performance. In the form that Manchester United are in, to be able in a lot of periods of the game to take the game to them, take the lead and go very close to getting a second speaks volumes for this group of players."

Source: DSG

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