Sir Alex Ferguson saluted the never-say-die attitude of his Manchester United FC players after they ground out the point they required against Blackburn Rovers FC to confirm a historic 19th league title for the club.
United were behind for almost an hour at Ewood Park following Brett Emerton's well-taken opener, and could have gone 2-0 down when Martin Olsson headed against a post midway through the second half. The visitors kept probing, however, and eventually levelled through Wayne Rooney's penalty, leaving Sir Alex to revel in United's achievement of eclipsing Liverpool FC's record of 18 top-flight championships.
"It's a fantastic performance by the lads," said Sir Alex, who has claimed his 12th title at the United helm. "The players worked their socks of to get the result we needed. It wasn't an easy game; we were 1-0 down after giving away a bad goal, but we kept on going and that's one of the great qualities they have, they don't give in."
When Sir Alex was appointed at Old Trafford in November 1986 following a successful spell at Aberdeen FC which yielded the 1983 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, United had not finished top of the pile since 1967. Twenty-five years on, however, they are the most decorated club in English football.
"In the 80s it was Liverpool's time," explained Sir Alex, who can now concentrate on winning his third UEFA Champions League crown as United boss when his team play FC Barcelona at Wembley on 28 May. "
When I came down [from Scotland] I never thought I'd achieve what we have done, but I always looked at getting that first title. Getting the first one opened the door for us, and we've had some great teams after that."
Sir Alex added: "I can't believe it [12 titles]. I had a great spell at Aberdeen in fairness, I had a great time up there, but it was always time for me to move on at some point and I couldn't have picked a better club. This was the ideal club for me, there's no question about that. It was the only club in the world that matched what I needed at the time."
The title is also the 12th for midfielder Ryan Giggs, the holder of United's all-time appearance record, who broke into the first team back in March 1991. "Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool, but we've gone past our biggest rivals," said the 37-year-old. "This is why I keep going, for days like this, it's amazing."
Rooney echoed Giggs' jubilation, adding of his decisive 73rd-minute penalty: "I just had to compose myself; I knew where I was going. I had been practising in training all week. Winning the Premier League is an incredible feeling."
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