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Ferguson demands improvement

Sir Alex Ferguson watched his side go ten points clear of title rivals Arsenal but was far from happy with the nature of Manchester United's performance during their 2-0 win over Fulham.

•  Man Utd 2-0 Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia grabbed the goals as United eased past the Cottagers at Old Trafford, but despite increasing their lead at the top of the table Ferguson wasn't impressed with his players.

"It was a result but I wouldn't say it was a job well done at all," he said. "We were a bit casual and lackadaisical.

"In the first half we played some very good football and could have scored a couple more, but we became wasteful with our possession in the second and might have suffered for that."

Arsenal can reduce the gap to seven with a win at Blackpool on Sunday, but with games running out, United's lead looks to be formidable.

Berbatov's strike was his 22nd of the season and Ferguson purred over the move that led to the opener. "That was a great goal,'' said Ferguson, who made eight changes in total, although he denied he had taken Fulham lightly. "You trust the squad. It wasn't a risk when you know the players. I picked the right team.''

Ferguson has already confirmed Valencia will start against Chelsea in the second leg of United's Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea on Tuesday. The Ecuador star has stepped superbly back into the heat of combat after spending six months on the sidelines with a major knee injury.

He nodded home the loose ball after Aaron Hughes had cleared Nani's goalbound shot, his first goal since August's Community Shield. "Valencia is a marvellous footballer," Ferguson said.

"We chose the right time to take him off and get him fresh for Tuesday. He will have an important role to play then."

It was the brightest part of Ferguson's afternoon given his well-fancied horse, What A Friend, failed to complete the Grand National at Aintree. "Apparently What a Friend was lying seventh three fences out," he said, "but he came home tired".

Mark Hughes said his old club are on course for the Treble, even if he accepts United still have plenty of work ahead of them to emulate the heroes of 1999. "They could win everything," he said.

"They are ticking games off and when you get to this stage of the season, they have been here, understand what needs to happen and what it takes. It is a big ask. Sir Alex would say himself it is very difficult to do, but trust me, it is something they will try and achieve. Good luck to them.''

If all goes to plan, United's season still has 12 games to go and will reach its conclusion in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28.


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