“I think we should be proud of it,” said Ferguson. “It’s not easy away from Europe because we’ve been to some fantastic places over the years. Maturity – there is a way you play in Europe away from home and I think you saw tonight we showed good patience in the game and kept good possession, I think that’s a key factor.”
Ferguson had dismissed worries about the “plastic pitch” ahead of the match, with the press going wild about the idea of us playing on an authentic surface, as if it was broken glass and landmines the players had to contend with. Apart from one occasion where the ball bounced awkwardly over Fabio’s head, generally, it didn’t seem to cause us too many problems. More puzzling though is Ferguson’s claim that we were playing down the middle, rather than using the wings…?
“I think that if you are a good footballer and you can concentrate on the ball – if you can concentrate on the ball that’s the most important thing,” he added. “They did that and I thought they did well. We wanted a bit more of a surge through the middle rather than the wide positions. I felt that if we could get into these areas then the wide players could come into it at a later stage. And I think it worked out quite well. Not exactly what you want because football’s football at the end of the day. We had some good chances in the second half, we improved our goalscoring chances and we’re pleased that Valencia’s got an important goal for us.”
Patrice Evra should be looking over his shoulder though, with the manager very happy with left back Fabio da Silva.
“He was absolutely outstanding,” he said. “The boy is a magnificent player for 18 years of age, absolutely first class. It’s just cramp, all he’s got is cramp, he’s okay.”