Nemanja Matic has insisted that Manchester United will need to maintain the fighting spirit seen against Stoke City to challenge for the Premier League title.
Jose Mourinho’s men fell behind against the run of play at the Bet365 Stadium through a goal from Jean-Eric Choupo-Moting just before half time.
Matic, speaking after the game, noted that Man United could draw confidence from the fighting spirit they showed to come back against Stoke.
“It was a tough game tonight,” he said. “To be honest, it’s always a tough game when you come to this stadium. Stoke are a good team, so it was difficult, but we managed to get a point.”
“If we want to be champions, we have to win games like this because in these games, if you win, you are champion. We have to know against teams like this you have to have a little bit more, you have to be concentrated and of course we’re not happy with a point.
“It’s always important if you can come from behind, and I think we showed spirit tonight. We had the lead in the second half but they scored a goal from the corner kick. We didn’t take some chances at the other end, so we could have won the game.
“It’s always important to be at the top of the table if you can. I’m happy that we are still there, and we’ll continue to work hard to stay there until the end of the season.”
Mourinho noted following the 4-0 win over Swansea City that he wanted to see how his men would react in difficult situations. This, after all, is what defines any team’s title credentials.
And he would have been pleased to see his side respond just two minutes after undeservedly going behind before adding another soon after half time. Goals against the run of play deflated United at times last season, but this time around it looked as if Stoke’s opener had a galvanising effect, almost as if they entered another gear.
That, more than anything, is what makes a top side.