Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took a trip down memory lane in his post-match press conference on Wednesday night.
United beat Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United 1-0 thanks to Robin van Persie’s strike hit the back of the net just 33 seconds after kick-off – the fastest goal of the season so far.
United took all three points from West Ham who, despite a solid performance and few scares for United in the latter stages of the game, and the Red Devils remain top of the table ahead of archrivals Manchester City.
Ferguson described the game and his team’s performance which, not a classic for United, got the job done – crucially holding on the their early lead.
"It is particularly hard, when you take the lead after one minute, to keep a clean sheet over the remaining 90-plus minutes, with time added on but in the main I thought we defended very well."
It was a strong defensive display by United, as the manager was quick to point to – the stand-out performer in the backline was Rafael who has come on leaps and bounds in the last year and has now added a high level of consistency to him game.
"Rafael is maturing, he's 22 years of age now. He came here as a young boy, he was in the first team at 17-18, and made a lot of rash mistakes because he was such an enthusiastic boy. He is maturing and learning now."
The defensive frailties of the United side this season haven’t gone unnoticed by the manager who has suffered a number of injuries at the back – captain Nemanja Vidic remains out, whilst Chris Smalling has only recently made his return to the squad. But the defence’s efficiency and concentration brought back a wave of nostalgia to the 70-year-old veteran manager.
"It's not so long ago, a couple of seasons, that Man United went 14 games without conceding a goal and that won them the league. If you look at some of the really important one-nils we've had, go back to beating Newcastle when they were nine points clear of us. The importance of winning 1-0 in certain games is your opponents know the resilience is there.”
"The three points means we're still ahead in the league and, with Chelsea drawing, it draws us away from them a little bit further but City are on our tails. It's going to be a long season.”
image: © tomjoad