A relieved Robin van Persie broke his goal drought and delighted Sir Alex Ferguson, as Manchester United moved closer to a 20th league title with victory over Stoke City at the Britannia.
Michael Carrick’s early effort gave United a dream start before the flying Dutchman bagged his 20th league of the season after the interval.
United’s win was Ferguson’s 900th as boss and the Scot was full of praise for his prolific strike force, as goal-shy van Persie joined Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney in the starting line-up.
“I chose the three of them, as they have 54 goals between them,” explained Ferguson. “You go through spells where you don’t score and you don’t think you’re ever going to get a goal.
“Then when you are scoring you think you’re never going to miss, so this was a really important goal for van Persie – he did really well to collect Wayne’s pass and be brought down for the penalty.
“The ball moved off the spot two or three times and he showed great composure to set himself down and take a great penalty.
It took the visitors just four minutes to open the scoring as Carrick toe-poked passed the despairing Asmir Begovic following Stoke’s failure to clear a United corner.
Van Persie sealed the win from the spot with 24 minutes left – breaking his 12-match goal drought – and celebrated with boss Ferguson, who kept faith him during his dry spell.
“He nearly killed me with that celebration, he forgets I’m 71,” laughed Ferguson. “It was a great celebration and brought the players and fans together.
“The character of the team is showing, I don’t think you can ever leave your character in the dressing room and they went out on the pitch with that and they’ve got the result they deserved.
“It had all the ingredients for a shock with the wind and the ball moving throughout and it’s never an easy place to come to anyway.
“I think the players deserve all the credit for the battling performance they gave.”
Ferguson opted to give Rooney a central midfield spot and the England international impressed, collecting the man of the match award.
“Wayne Rooney was brilliant in centre midfield, he was possibly needing a different role in terms of getting his confidence back,” explained Ferguson.
“He’s been under a little bit of criticism and had a few doubters out there, but our job is to get that confidence and form back.
“I thought a spell in midfield would do us the world of good and of course it worked for us.
“The responsibility and expectation of Manchester United is to win every game, we have six games left, just go and win the next game.”
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