Ferguson claims psychological win after Chelsea draw
November 27, 2006 6:30pm CST
Ferguson claims psychological win after Chelsea draw by Angus MacKinnon November 27, 2006 MANCHESTER, England (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson insisted his side had breached an important psychological barrier after Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford with champions Chelsea. United missed an opportunity to open up a six-point gap at the top of the Premiership, prompting Jose Mourinho to suggest the Scot would be the more disappointed of the two managers. However Ferguson insisted his players would grow stronger on the back of a performance which, he claimed, had demonstrated that they deserve the right to be sitting above Chelsea in the league. "Between the two of us it is going to be nip and tuck and there won't be a lot in it," Ferguson said. "But we have given ourselves an outstanding chance. It is a fantastic league and I'm just delighted my players have shown that they deserve to be where they are, no doubt about that. "Maybe we could have scored more goals, but at the end of the day I'm pleased with the performance. I think this performance in such a high quality game shows them that we are probably the best team in the country at the moment. "Now we have to step forward from that because becoming champions is about beating every team. Consistency is the name of the game." Mourinho, naturally, put a quite different spin on Sunday afternoon's heavyweight bout, which finished even after Ricardo Carvalho's header cancelled out Louis Saha's superb first-half strike for United. "A point is a good result for us," he said. "Mentally, it was very important that we came here and we go home with the same distance between us. "I don't think a six-point gap kills the title race, but for sure there is a big difference between six and three." Mourinho added: "Manchester United lost a big, big chance to open the lead to six points. And we won a point on Arsenal (who lost at Bolton on Saturday) on a weekend when maybe they could have closed the gap. "If I were in their place I would be very disappointed." Ferguson's response to Mourinho's suggestion that the point had been better for Chelsea than United was typically pithy. "I've no doubt about that because I think we are a better team than them," said the Scot. Michael Carrick, who produced his best display yet for United in the centre of midfield, admitted there was a degree of frustration in the home side's dressing room. "We have gone ahead and from there we think we should have won the game, so it is disappointing to concede an equaliser from a sloppy set piece," Carrick admitted. Before they scored 20 minutes from the end Chelsea had managed just one shot on target and Frank Lampard's effort just before the break was comfortably saved by Edwin van der Sar. United, in contrast, squandered two clear chances to add to Saha's opener in the early stages of the second half as well as forcing Carlo Cudicini into producing two good saves either side of the interval, from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs. And even when Chelsea were dominating territorially after the break, United's rearguard never looked seriously under threat. For the champions, Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack were once again conspicuous by their absence from the decisive moments of the match and their subdued performances were not the only area where the champions failed to distinguish themselves. Didier Drogba was fortunate to remain on the pitch after catching United's Serbian centreback Nemanja Vidic with what appeared to be a pre-meditated elbow to the face, ten minutes before half-time. At that stage United were deservedly in front, courtesy of a goal that was immaculate in both construction and execution. A move that began with Carrick winning possession on the edge of his own area, saw the ball slickly worked, through Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney, to Saha on the edge of the Chelsea area. The Frenchman, who had missed a penalty and another glorious chance in the midweek Champions League defeat by Celtic, sidestepped Carvalho before curling a shot around his marker and beyond the right-hand glove of the unsighted Cudicini. Saha and Ronaldo both spurned good chances to double United's lead after the break, allowing Carvalho the opportunity to equalise from Frank Lampard's 69th-minute corner, at which point both sides were happy to settle for a draw.