Comeback fills Fergie with pride
Sir Alex Ferguson felt Manchester United "played like champions" in Saturday's 4-2 win at West Ham, whose boss Avram Grant remains positive.
Sir Alex Ferguson declared Manchester United had "played like champions" after watching them add another entry to their pantheon of great comebacks by beating West Ham to edge closer to the Premier League title.
For the umpteenth time during Ferguson's legendary reign, United looked dead and buried with time running out of a game they could ill afford to lose.
But in a sensational 19 minutes that included a 14-minute Wayne Rooney hat-trick, the leaders turned a 2-0 defeat into a two-goal victory, propelling them eight points clear at the top of the table and piling the pressure back on Arsenal and Chelsea behind them.
"We played like champions," said a delighted Ferguson.
"It was a real championship performance as far as I'm concerned.
"I said to them at half-time, 'Look, goal difference doesn't matter now - you're getting something from this game'.
"'The next goal wins the game'.
"That's why I put Ryan (Giggs) back to left-back to have a go and just attack.
"It paid dividends and I'm pleased with that."
So often have United produced such remarkable fightbacks, it is no longer a surprise when they pull one off.
Ferguson added: "They've got the ability to turn it around - that's the first thing.
"But they've got great faith in themselves, faith in the team, faith in their team-mates.
"It doesn't always work but you can rest assured, they keep trying to create and play their football, and in the second half we dominated."
In truth, United dominated almost from start to finish and only found themselves 2-0 behind after Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic inexplicably conceded penalties.
Returning captain Vidic was also lucky not to see red, something acknowledged by Ferguson, who had spent the build-up to the game bemoaning decisions he felt had gone against his side this season.
The Scot could not resist questioning West Ham's second penalty today, with the offence arguably taking place outside the box.
"Bit fortunate," said Ferguson, who insisted his side fully merited their win.
He was also delighted with Rooney's first hat-trick of what has been a turbulent season for the England striker.
"Marvellous," he said.
"I hope there's another couple."
Ferguson, who confirmed goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was not risked due to a groin injury ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, felt Saturday's win would hit United's title rivals hard.
He added: "It makes an impact on us.
"Seven games left. You can count the games down one by one.
"It ends up you run out of games and hopefully we're there.
"Arsenal have games in hand and it could go to goal difference but I somehow don't think so."
Defeat sucked West Ham back into the drop zone and manager Grant was left to rue referee Lee Mason's decision not to dismiss Vidic for hauling down Demba Ba in what appeared a last-man challenge.
Asked whether the United defender should have been sent off, Grant said: "I think so, but I don't want to talk about the referee."
United's penalty for Rooney's hat-trick goal was also controversial, with Fabio kicking the ball against Matthew Upson's arm.
Grant insisted he "didn't see" the incident but added "the players were very disappointed" at the award.
The Hammers boss nevertheless admitted his side had made it "too easy" for United.
"In the second half, they had nothing to lose," he said.
"But we have given them too much space.
"There were a lot of positive things. We wanted to win and did everything very good in the first half. But footballers need to complete two halves."
The result put the breaks on West Ham's bid to escape relegation.
Grant said: "The league will be very tight but I think we can do it because we have come into good shape at the right time.
"Against Manchester United, you want to take points but you do not count on winning against them.
"We still have good momentum."