Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was left to rue injuries to defenders Gary Neville and John O’Shea after seeing his side return to the top of the Premier League following a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.
The pair look set to be “out for weeks” at a crucial stage of the season but at least United can take comfort in being a step closer to retaining their title.
The victory over Portsmouth means United are now three points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand.
Ferguson was critical of referee Peter Walton following the injuries to both of his players, claiming the official should have booked the culprits.
“They are out for weeks,” said Ferguson. “They were both bad tackles but the referee didn’t do anything about them.
“You normally expect some firm discipline from Peter Walton – but not this time.”
Despite the welcome three points, the manager was not entirely happy.
“In the first-half we produced some of our best football all season,” said Ferguson.
“But we missed a lot of chances. It gave them encouragement and when they created a couple of chances in the second-half I thought ‘we are going to throw this away’.
“It is so embarrassing to be talking about throwing a game away when you should be maybe six goals up.”
Ferguson admitted that although United have strengthened their position in the league, the title race is far from over.
“We’re in a better position tonight than we were on Monday, but there’s a long way to go,” said the Scot.
“Six games seems like a short time but it can be a long time and the players had a little warning today.
“If you don’t take your chances you do make it hard for yourself, and in first half some of our play was stunning.”