Footballs of steel: Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United character helped beat Stoke City

By Chris Bailey

Sir Alex Ferguson revealed a steely Manchester United took all their spirit onto the pitch before edging one step closer to the title against Stoke City.

The Red Devils moved back 15 points clear of Manchester City courtesy of Michael Carrick and a Robin van Persie penalty, who scored his first goal in 12 games.

And Ferguson insists his players had to rely on mental strength just as much as skill to overcome a Potters side who love getting physical.

“I always say you don’t leave your character in the dressing room and I think we saw that against Stoke,” the Scot told

“The Britannia Stadium is not an easy place to go to and we had this swirling wind in the first-half in particular, which was difficult.

“Nonetheless we had to find a way through it and we kept our composure. We weren’t over anxious about the game – we kept playing the ball, passing it around.”

Though the Britannia Stadium is renowned as a fortress, United have won four of five away at Stoke since the Potters’ return to the Premier League.

Ferguson admits his team do not usually play free-flowing football at the ground – but grind out the result when it counts.

“We didn’t make a lot of chances, but we’ve done that at Stoke over the last six years,” he added.

“We’ve made very few chances but usually won the games – a late goal from Tevez, a late goal from Chicharito.

“The performance and the character the players showed was terrific.”

Image courtesy of BBC Sport, via YouTube, with thanks.

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