Alex Ferguson warned Manchester United would only get stronger in the Barclays Premier League title race after watching them win at Tottenham to move back to within two points of Manchester City.
United produced a classic smash-and-grab raid at White Hart Lane yesterday in a game manager Ferguson described as their hardest away from home this season.
The 3-1 victory was the last of a tough run of fixtures for the champions, who have a much easier sequence before travelling to the Etihad Stadium on April 30 for what could be a title decider.
“It’s a massive, massive position that we’re in now, really good position,” said Ferguson, whose squad is set to be further boosted by the return of Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Antonio Valencia, with Anderson already back in the fold.
“We’ll have Smalling ready for Thursday, Cleverley will be ready for next Sunday, Valencia will be ready in 10 days’ time.
“If we get a big squad, it’s going to give us a better chance.”
United’s cause has also been helped by David De Gea finally beginning to look like the goalkeeper they paid Atletico Madrid £18million for last summer.
The Spaniard produced another fine display yesterday to keep a dominant Spurs at bay, especially a superb reaction save from Jake Livermore’s deflected drive.
Ferguson said: “Fantastic save, absolutely brilliant, and that’s the kind of save that the boy’s capable of making.
“He did it last week at Norwich, made two or three great saves then. He’s done it again.”
Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans have also made light of captain Nemanja Vidic’s season-ending injury, no more so than yesterday.
Ferguson said: “They were brilliant. I don’t know how many headers they got out, cleared up during the game – it was fantastic. And you need that.
“Last year, it was the same when we came here and Vidic and Ferdinand were brilliant, also, knocking them away.
“We’ve got to realise – and I think we do – that to come here and get that result is really first class.”
Ferguson had no qualms admitting his side rode their luck against Tottenham.
“It’s an entirely unbelievable result,” he said.
“I would say that’s our hardest away game of the season.
“They’d only lost one game – it was their first home game, I think, against City, when they had a few injury problems.
“That was the magnitude of our challenge.
“The first half, we were never at the races.
“Maybe we got our tactics wrong. What we tried to do was come back off them and sit back a little bit and draw them onto us and then play on the counter-attack. But it didn’t work.
“Second half, we pushed up more on them, challenged their back four better, and it did make a difference.”