In football circles, the final day of January is synonymous with last-minute transfer deals. But this year it could also be the day when the balance of power in the Barclays Premier League title race shifted back towards the Red half of Manchester.
While Manchester City lost 1-0 at Everton, United beat Stoke 2-0 at Old Trafford to reel in the Blues and draw level on 54 points at the top of the table.
“It’s a good night for us, of course,” Sir Alex told MUTV moments after the final whistle had blown at Goodison Park.
“But what I’m most pleased about is our own performance. I thought our football was terrific. We kept our composure, we were very patient. Okay, we won with two penalty kicks but I think the manner in which we played our football was the most important thing.
“It’s still early doors [in terms of the title race]. It’s only the last day in January. I always say that March is a very important month, as well as the beginning of April. We play Manchester City in April, for instance.”
There’s a long way to go before that, and next on the Reds’ agenda is a trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday 5 February. It’s a match for which Sir Alex hopes he’ll be able to recall a trio of players who missed the Stoke run-out on Tuesday night.
“We’re hopeful Wayne Rooney, Nani and possibly Ashley Young will be fit for Sunday,” he said.
Goalkeepers David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard also missed Stoke’s visit to Old Trafford after suffering training-ground injuries on Monday. And while the boss would no doubt prefer to have at least one of those experienced heads fit for the Chelsea clash, he was heartened by young stopper Ben Amos’ performance – in only his seventh senior game for the Reds – on Tuesday night.
“Anders got injured in training and then David got injured at the end of training, so we had a right nightmare there,” Sir Alex said. “Ben Amos didn’t have a lot to do but he was confident and he was composed. I’m pleased with that.”