Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin believes a half-time team talk paid dividends for Manchester United at Liverpool.
Louis van Gaal’s side held out for a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, boosting their top-four prospects and securing a fourth straight win over their bitter rivals.
United, who moved up to fifth, just two points behind fourth-placed Spurs as a result, were perhaps not the better side, with Liverpool having 19 shots to their seven, as well as more corners and the majority of possession.
But captain Rooney’s strike with 10 minutes remaining – United’s only shot on target all afternoon – was enough to claim all three points, with the goalscorer praising the effect of a half-time team talk.
“It was a tough game. Liverpool came on to us a lot and David De Gea made some great saves,” Rooney told MUTV. “Thankfully I got a chance and took it.
“The performance wasn’t that important today; all that matters today was the victory. I think we knew how important it was and there were a few reminders [at half-time] from myself and the manager that ‘this is Liverpool we are playing, we need to tackle more and get to the ball quicker’.
“I think we did that in the second half. Liverpool made it tough for us in the first half but we got the chance and we are happy with the win.”
Midfielder Schneiderlin played the full 90 minutes at Anfield, and echoed his captain’s thoughts.
“Anfield is always a nice atmosphere, especially in a derby match,” the Frenchman told MUTV. “We could feel it was a special moment and we are very happy to finish with the win today.
“It was the most important thing to give the win to our fans and the football club. Hopefully now we can carry on.
“In the first half, we didn’t win enough second balls. Sometimes we won the first ball but not the second ball.
“When we came into the dressing room after the first half, there was some screaming and shouting but of course that is normal because in a derby you cannot lose the battle.
“Liverpool are a very high pressing team and we knew if we kept a clean sheet we would have a chance to win the game.
“In the second half we did what we had to do. We scored one goal, stayed strong and, at the end, it is three points which is amazing.”