Friday 15 December 2017

Chicharito leaves it late as United edge closer to title

Man United 1 Everton 0

DION FANNING at Old Trafford

Ten minutes from the end, Alex Ferguson was prowling on the touchline, counting the seconds, adding on minutes, doing his job and the job of the referee and fourth official.

David Moyes was asked afterwards if, with 80 minutes gone, he was thinking that his side was going to get a result at Old Trafford. Few managers think that at the home of Manchester United.

"I thought we might have been growing into the game," Moyes said, but he didn't think much more. "You start to think we're hanging in there."

Moyes put the Everton goal down to defensive mistakes but it was down primarily to the will of Manchester United which means the will of Alex Ferguson.

Chicharito, the remarkable success story of United's spending last summer (somewhere in a parallel universe, Bebe has made the equivalent contribution), headed the winner seven minutes from time.

It was late but not too late for Manchester United.

They are as good as champions and they could claim their 19th title at home to Chelsea in two weeks' time. To do that, they will need a victory at the Emirates next Sunday which, as Ferguson pointed out afterwards, is something this side is capable of.

Before that, there is a Champions League semi-final in Germany on Tuesday night. Nemanja Vidic was left out of the squad yesterday in preparation and he wasn't needed.

Everton seemed to have one good claim for a penalty ignored but Moyes said he didn't believe it, or a first-half tangle involving Jermaine Beckford and Jonny Evans, were penalties.

"I had no qualms about either of them," Moyes said, displaying his customary honesty. Arsenal and Chelsea were going to need the help from somewhere as they hadn't been able to help themselves.

Ferguson's United have always lacked compassion.

Their ability to deal with the lower teams in the league, especially at home, has always been their gift and yesterday's victory means they have only dropped two points at home all season.

Ferguson had told his players to ignore all the permutations. "Forget all that nonsense and win your games," he told them.

He had his own nonsense to roll out, complaining that the five minutes of injury-time had been added because of Everton's time-wasting so should have been reduced when Everton needed time at the end. He keeps trying and, most of the time, he keeps succeeding.

United, too, kept going. The goal was inevitable. But the secret of Manchester United's success is that they never consider the inevitable, inevitable.

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