Harry Redknapp might not have been too impressed, but Darren Fletcher has revealed that Nani risked a dressing room ear-bashing if he had not slotted home Manchester United’s controversial second at Old Trafford yesterday.
As Tottenham seethe at the injustice of being condemned to a 2-0 defeat in a fixture where they have endured so much injustice already down the years, within the home dressing room there was a clear view.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the penalty appeal Nani had turned down, or the winger’s handball which referee Mark Clattenburg opted not to give a free-kick for, once Heurelho Gomes had taken his own ill-fated decision, Nani had to take advantage.
“If he didn’t put it in the back of the net, he would have got a b*****king from the manager and the rest of the players,” said Fletcher.
“Tottenham will be very aggrieved by that, maybe rightly so. There was some misunderstanding from the goalkeeper but the ball was still in play.”
It was another crazy ending to a United game this season, which obscured the relatively comfortable manner with which they were seeing out an important win, given leaders Chelsea had opened up an eight-point lead immediately before kick-off.
“We were in the dressing room and heard Chelsea had scored 10 minutes from the end at Blackburn,” said skipper Nemanja Vidic.
“That put more pressure on us but we did well. Hopefully now we will win more games in a row, which will be important if we are going to catch Chelsea.”
Nemanja Vidic had put United in front with a typically precise header after the Tottenham defence had failed to track the Serbian’s run to meet Nani’s cross.
It was the second time United’s new skipper had found the net this season – and the 1000th Premier League goal to be scored at Old Trafford.
Yet, given his mighty frame, Vidic concedes he should be doing more.
“It is nice to get a piece of history. But there will be more goals here and I hope this is not my last one either,” he said.
“I try to score and I should get more, so this one is good for my confidence.”
It was United’s fourth successive win in all competitions, a run they will expect to extend with victories in Bursaspor on Tuesday and against Wolves when the two sides meet again on Premier League duty next Saturday, 11 days after the Red Devils emerged victorious in a keenly-contested Carling Cup duel.
For Alex Ferguson, it is exactly the type of improvement he has been searching for after enduring too many needless draws.
“It’s kicking-on time. No more dilly-dallying,” he said. “Chelsea are five points in front and we cannot afford to give any more points away the way we did at the start of the season.”
Visits to Manchester City and Aston Villa have to be undertaken before November is out, by which time Wayne Rooney should be ready to assume the responsibility his vast newly-improved salary demands.
Rooney might be needed too given Dimitar Berbatov’s form has taken a dip recently and Javier Hernandez cannot be expected to keep digging his new team-mates out of trouble.
The Mexican had one decent opportunity yesterday, although it was Park Ji-sung and Nani who struck the woodwork, Rafael van der Vaart replying in kind for Spurs before limping off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, which might make him a doubt for Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with holders Inter Milan.
Already without Rooney, Michael Owen and Ryan Giggs, Ferguson was glad to have escaped with no further concerns, confirming no-one will be excused the long trip to Turkey, where he feels victory should seal a place in the knock-out stages.
“I would rather we took a strong squad and try to get through,” confirmed Ferguson. “The way I have to look at it is if we win the match it will put us on 10 points and that would be us qualified.”