Fergie hails United spirit
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Sir Alex Ferguson saluted Manchester United's spirit as his side snatched a crucial 2-1 win against Stoke.

Ferguson's side moved to within five points of league leaders Chelsea after two predatory finishes from Javier Hernandez at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday. The Mexico international - standing in for the injured Wayne Rooney - struck in the 27th minute with an impudent header, before Tuncay Sanli levelled nine minutes from time.

But Hernandez pounced in the 86th minute to finally - as Ferguson put it - "get the show on the road" for United. With a League Cup tie against Wolves on Tuesday and a Premier League encounter with Tottenham at the weekend, Ferguson believes this victory could prove pivotal.

He said: "When their goal went in you start to say to yourself it is going to be one of those seasons. When you lose a goal with ten minutes left you are concerned. You are thinking to yourself 'not again!'

Hopefully we can now kick on. We have some important games between now and Christmas time and we have to make our mark in the league now.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

"But hopefully we can now kick on. We have some important games between now and Christmas time and we have to make our mark in the league now. We are just thankful Javier got on the end of the ball across the box. He has good instinct.

"The supporters' reaction was fantastic to the goal and our players' reaction was fantastic. It is the kind of goal United score over the years. A late goal met by incredible enthusiasm by the fans. They knew it was an important one."

Ferguson also took the opportunity to attack the role of football agents. The Scot achieved another managerial masterstroke by convincing Rooney to sign a five-year deal at Old Trafford, just days after admitting the England striker admitted wanted to leave because the club did not match his ambitions.

But Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford still received criticism for their tactics in speeding up negotiations over a new improved contract. And Ferguson, whose own son Jason is a former agent, said: "It is always tough at United. There are always issues to deal with.

"When your top players come towards the end of their contracts you have to do something to get them a new one. They are all the same. You have to deal with agents of this world today which is difficult. The players are no problem. There is no problem with players. Some agents are difficult."