Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to his team’s “patience” and “determination” after watching them clinch the Carling Cup.
Ferguson admitted the latter stages of Sunday’s League Cup final against Aston Villa were “like defending the Alamo”, but United dug in to defend their title – with in-form striker Wayne Rooney proving the difference once again.
“I’m delighted,” said the united boss after the 2-1 victory. “I thought it was going to be a long day; it looked headed for a draw and extra time. We did a good job to come from behind and win.
“We kept our patience and deserved it. At this time of year you have to keep your focus. Again today we showed, as we have time and time again, that this club has determination.”
United fell behind to James Milner’s penalty inside five minutes. Given a rare start in place of the rested Rooney, Michael Owen equalised soon after but the game was in the balance until 14 minutes from time, when Rooney, on as a replacement for the injured Owen, headed home a cross from man-of-the match Antonio Valencia.
“He’s in that form and it’s his season,” said Ferguson. “He’s scoring important goals.
“The header didn’t really have any real pace but it was well-placed and the goalkeeper had a lot of work to do to get anywhere near it.”
It was the 24-year-old’s 28th goal of the season, seven of the last eight coming from headers.
“Credit to Aston Villa, that last ten minutes when they pushed up all their big players it was like defending the Alamo,” said the United manager. “They had a go and Richard Dunne had a chance at the back post and missed it altogether – you need a bit of luck in these situations.”
The triumph represented Ferguson’s 32nd major trophy during a managerial career spanning 35 years.
“If you look at opportunities clubs have to win trophies, you have to accept what you can get,” he said. “Any trophy is good. Hopefully it will be 33 this season. Might be too old to wait for next season.”
And on winning his fifth league cup he added: “You’ve got to enjoy it, that’s why we are in it. You have to accept what you can get in this life. Winning this trophy is special to us. Any trophy is good.
“You’re in this game to win and I appreciate everything we have achieved as a club and I appreciate the luck I’ve carried. That’s important.