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What They Said: Ferguson's delight over battling victory

ESPN staff
March 30, 2013 « Impressive Kingdom on top of the world | Chartbeat test »
Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with the team spirit his players showed on the pitch © Getty Images
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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised his players' efforts after they edged closer to Premier League glory following their 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

"It was a battling performance by the players," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "We picked up two or three injuries along the way and it was courage that got us through in the second half. It means we will go into the Man City game with at least a 15-point lead.

"I think the players have galvanised themselves - the team spirit, the concentration, the focus in every game. That's 25 wins in 30 league games, which is a record. That's all down to the efforts of the players."

In what proved to be the beginning of the end for Martin O'Neill after parting ways with Sunderland on Saturday evening, before any announcement had been made he said he believed his players can bounce back from the defeat and avoid the drop.

"Confidence is a major thing in the game and we are striving for it, but I thought the players can take a great deal of confidence from that second-half performance. We have to go and put it right, and we intend to do so. There is a determination in that dressing room to get the points. Nothing is too easy in this game, but we are up for the challenge," he said.

Roberto Mancini was pleased to see his Manchester City side overcome a slow start and inflict a heavy 4-0 defeat on Newcastle United. "If we play like this, we play very well. We have another eight games, and an FA Cup semi-final, and we need to continue playing like today," the Italian said. "They defended very well. It was difficult. Maybe we didn't have a good tempo in the first 20 to 25 minutes but after that we played quicker and scored a goal."

Alan Pardew was also quick to heap praise on City, saying his side were asking for trouble in the way they played against the Premier League champions.

"They were very relaxed and that is very dangerous when you have great players like they have, playing without any fear," Pardew said. "But having said that, in the first half we didn't put enough pressure on them or technically keep the ball as well as we have done in previous games."

Rafael Benitez was less than happy about the performance of his side © Getty Images
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Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez bemoaned his side's performance as the Blues went down 2-1 at Southampton.

"In the first half we did not play with the intensity required," admitted Benitez. "In the second half we were much better and had more chances but the decisions in the final third were wrong. At least we had chances. We knew we were in a really good position and we're still in a good position but in the remaining games we must do something more and win."

Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with his team's performance.

"We thoroughly deserved this win over Chelsea," a delighted Pochettino said. "We played very well so we are really happy with the performance and the result. Victories give us confidence in the job that we are doing."

Arsene Wenger was pleased with the amount of chances Arsenal created in their 4-1 win over Reading.

"It was a good performance," Wenger said. "Technically sound, serious, always focused and a very creative performance as well because we created many shots and chances - that is what you want."

Newly appointed Reading boss Nigel Adkins was quick to praise the travelling Royals fans as he looks to steer the club to Premier League safety. "We have a massive challenge in place," Adkins revealed. "But one that we are facing head on and the supporters are part of that."

Andre Villas-Boas was delighted to see his Tottenham side return to winning ways at Swansea after suffering back-to-back losses against Liverpool and Fulham. "It was an important victory after back-to-back defeats," Villas-Boas said after the 2-1 win. "We cannot expect to dominate away from home, but we had a couple of chances to make it three which would have helped us."

Michael Laudrup bemoaned Swansea's slow start to their 2-1 loss at home to Spurs.

"I am a little disappointed," Laudrup said. "We reacted well, and dominated the second half. In recent matches we have picked up results when maybe they should have been draws. Today it has worked against us."

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce praised the importance of gaining three points at home to West Brom in a 3-1 victory.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Allardyce said: "With Wigan winning and closing the gap it was a very important win for us today, it puts us back in 11th spot so we're moving back up the table. We've been hovering around there all season, so it shows the consistency,"

West Brom manager Steve Clarke was left frustrated after the defeat at Upton Park. "We knew this was going to be a difficult game," Clarke said. "West Ham would see this as a big chance to get three points towards making themselves safe in the Premier League."

Roberto Martinez praised his Wigan side's character in pulling themselves out of the Premier League relegation places with a 1-0 victory over Norwich at the DW Stadium.

"It was very important [to win] as you can imagine, I think the points they are vital to try to increase the points tally," Martinez said. "But today was more important than that. Today was to find a way to perform after an international break which historically for us has been very, very difficult."

Norwich manager Chris Hughton was left disappointed at his side's away record, believing the Canaries' remaining home games will be the main source of points in order to survive.

"I think for a club like ourselves that have a good home record, I think our season is always going to be based on the points that you can get and the wins - the three pointers - that you can get at home and what you're able to pick up away from home," Hughton said.

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