Ferdinand: Winning is most important thing
Rio Ferdinand has no qualms about Manchester United making an "ugly" charge for the Premier League title as the leaders look to extend their advantage at the top against Stoke City.
Ferdinand insists United will take three points in any way, shape or form if that is what it takes to regain the Premier League crown from Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson's team have been anything but fluent so far this term but remain unbeaten in the league and sit at the Premier League summit, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference and with two games in hand on their local rivals.
Their 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday encapsulated their season so far as it was ugly and scrappy but ultimately successful. United defender Ferdinand said: "You've got to dig deep in these games; these are the type of games that make up big ground in the league.
"Other teams watching would probably have been thinking we'll just nick a draw maybe, but to take three points against West Brom was great for us. You've got to win games, it's as simple as that. I don't care how we win. Ideally we'd like to play well, but in these situations when you're not playing at your best, the most important thing is to get the three points and go back to Manchester happy."
Worryingly for Stoke, Wayne Rooney looks to be regaining the form that made him one of the world's leading strikers 12 months ago. Last season he was comfortably United's best player but he has gone off the boil in recent times, hindered by an ankle problem. However, he scored the opener against West Brom and also set up Javier Hernandez for the winner and Ferguson is confident the old Rooney is returning.
"People talk about world class players. That was a world class performance," Ferguson said. "He was absolutely magnificent, he drove us the whole way. Wayne was a bit unlucky not to score an extra couple of goals. But the goal he did score will give him unbelievable confidence and hopefully he kicks on from here."
Jones confidence boost
Another striker who has needed a goal to boost his confidence is Stoke's Kenwyne Jones and he duly delivered that in the Potters' 2-0 victory over Everton on Saturday. That win means Stoke will visit Old Trafford in a positive frame of mind and with manager Tony Pulis hoping Jones can start scoring more goals after a recent dry spell.
"I'm really, really pleased for the lad because he's had to deal with some pretty sad issues in his life and I think his confidence has dipped a bit as a result," Pulis revealed "Kenwyne is a lovely lad, a gentle lad. He's had problems off the pitch that nobody knows about and they have had an effect on him. Fingers crossed, he has got over them now and got his head straight.
"He can be unplayable at times and we are pleased to have him. We will go to Old Trafford and give it our best shot. We have struggled there but it would be nice to go there and make a good account of ourselves." United will go into the encounter without Paul Scholes (groin), John O'Shea (calf) and Antonio Valencia (ankle), while Stoke will be missing Mamady Sidibe with a shin complaint.