Sir Alex Ferguson believes his Manchester United side are playing like champions after their gritty 4-2 win over West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.
United looked to be on course for more dropped points at half-time, trailing 2-0 after a pair of penalties were converted by Mark Noble.
But Wayne Rooney ripped the game apart in 15 second-half minutes with a hat-trick before substitute Javier Hernandez completed the win six minutes from the end.
The victory gave Ferguson’s men an eight-point lead over second-placed Arsenal, although the Gunners have played two games fewer than United, and the 69-year-old was delighted with the performance.
“We played like champions today and we played to our ability,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“That was a championship-winning performance.”
“It’s not an easy place to come with the fight for relegation and that result might put them (West Ham) in trouble.”
Ferguson watched Saturday’s match from the stands as he served the second of a five-match touchline ban, but he was impressed by the resilience his players showed.
“Being two goals down at half-time was a travesty considering the possession and chances created in the first half,” he said.
“We kept making chances in the first half, they couldn’t get the ball off (Antonio) Valencia in the first half and he delivered two or three fantastic balls, he had the opposition on toast really.”
“We had to go for it, bring in Hernandez and put (Ryan) Giggs to left back. Goal difference didn’t matter, we needed to get something.”
“Second half when Chicharito (Hernandez) came on, he gave you pace and the running behind line we needed.”
“There was a strong bench today with Nani, (Dimitar) Berbatov and (Michael) Owen. I thought if it was still 2-2 in last 10 minutes, then I would bring Michael on and go for it – going for it is vital to our club.”
West Ham boss Avram Grant – whose side remains in the bottom three as a result of the loss – said they did not make life difficult enough for United in the second half, but remained positive about the relegation fight ahead.
“It was too easy for them to control the game,” Grant said.
“In the second half they had nothing to lose, put Giggs at left-back and sent a lot of quality players forward. But we have given them too much space.”
“There were a lot of positive things. We wanted to win and did everything very good in the first half. But footballers need to complete two halves.”
“The league will be very tight but I think we can do it because we have come into good shape at the right time.”
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