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Ferguson praises team's battling qualities

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson reckons his side have the battling qualities necessary to sustain their position at the top of the English Premiership.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2006 19:05 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson reckons his side have the battling qualities necessary to sustain their position at the top of the English Premiership.

The Red Devils have won all three of their games so far this season, opening up an early gap over the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and champions Chelsea.

United were made to dig deep to beat newly-promoted Watford 2-1 on Saturday and Ferguson was delighted that his side had met the challenge with steely determination.

"We've got a very positive outfit here," Ferguson told Sky Sports television.

"The younger players have grown up, they've got great determination about them, they want to do well and there's a great spirit about the place.

"You can never say after three games what the season's going to hold for you. But that team's definitely giving us a chance there's no doubt about that."

He said United never expected an easy ride at Vicarage Road, but goals from France defender Mikael Silvestre and Wales winger Ryan Giggs, whose winning strike came from a defensive mistake, were enough to maintain their 100 percent record.

The Hornets had levelled towards the end of the first half with a goal from pre-season signing Damien Francis.

"You saw another side to us," Ferguson told MUTV, the club's television channel.

"Watford make it a real battle for you. We realise we had to battle to win the points, and the players can take credit for that.

"We came to a difficult place, showed our mettle and got our rewards from it."

Giggs added: "We could have played a little bit better but you've got to dig out the results and that's what we've done."

Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd was upbeat about his side's chances of avoiding relegation despite his bitter disappointment at their defeat.

"There's so much more to come. We are far better than we showed. We were far too respectful," said Boothroyd, who at 35 years old is the youngest manager in the Premiership, as opposed to Ferguson, who is the oldest at 64.

"We need to decide and make a choice whether we want to be a force in this league or whether we are going to lay down," Boothroyd added after his side lost their second Premiership game out of three this season.

Boothroyd, a lower-league journeyman player who guided Watford to promotion in his first full season as a manager, said teams should not go into games against the likes of United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool fearing their players.

"We are only human beings unless someone tells me different," he said.

Boothroyd voiced great respect for Ferguson.

"I think he's brilliant. I think he's absolutely superb as a guy and as a manager but I'm not going to get excited and wet my pants every time he comes in the room."

While United lead the Premiership table, Watford have earned just one point from nine on the club's return to the top flight after a seven-year absence.

England's Michael Carrick, bought from Tottenham in July for 18.6 million pounds (35.1 million dollars), made his first league start for United in the heart of midfield but the visitors were still missing suspended pair Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes.

The result may have been different but for the actions of two Hornets players in the space of a few minutes early in the second half.

First, Watford striker Darius Henderson wasted a glorious chance to put the home side 2-1 ahead after failing to convert a deflected shot when presented with an open goal.

The Red Devils immediately punished their hosts as Giggs scored from inside the box following an error by Watford substitute Matthew Spring.

Carelessness by Spring allowed Giggs to round Watford goalkeeper Richard Lee and fire into an empty net.

"I wouldn't highlight any one individual error," Boothroyd said in reference to the winning goal.

"There are lots of things today that we know we can improve on."

First Published: Aug 27, 2006 13:21 IST