Left-back ends Old Trafford duck at ninth time of asking
LIAM Ridgewell ended his painful 11-year wait for a win at Old Trafford thanks to a ‘brilliant’ team display.
The home of the champions had become a Theatre of Nightmares for the left-back, having lost each of his eight previous visits with Albion, Blues and Villa with a 19-3 aggregate in Manchester United’s favour.
The closest Ridgewell had come to avoiding defeat there was last term, when the Baggies trailed Sir Alex Ferguson’s side by a solitary goal until Robin van Persie added a second in stoppage time.
And the 29-year-old claimed the manner in which Steve Clarke's side pushed the eventual champions all the way last December fuelled their confidence for Saturday’s trip.
“I think last season was the nearest I’d come to getting anything at Old Trafford,” reflected Ridgewell.
“We lost 2-0 but they didn’t get their second goal until late on and we played very well that day.
“We spoke about that game before Saturday’s match – and this time we did get something!
“It was just brilliant.
“Everyone loves to play at Old Trafford. It’s hard, but if you can’t get up for playing at a ground like that, you never will.
“You just have to embrace the surroundings, take another deep breath and keep running even when you’re tired.
“The way we played was brilliant. We fully deserved what we got.”
Ridgewell admitted Saturday’s win didn’t quite eclipse his career highlight of winning the League Cup with Blues, but he claimed it wasn’t far behind.
“The big one for me was beating Arsenal at Wembley but Saturday’s definitely up there,” he added.
Albion’s creative players earned the plaudits for the club’s first success at Old Trafford in almost 35 years but Ridgewell insisted the manner in which the team defended as a unit was just as crucial.
He also felt the goal the Baggies did concede could have been ruled out.
“Everyone put a shift in,” added Ridgewell.
“When you go to a place like Old Trafford, you’ve got to do that.
“Everyone defended superbly. The goals will get the attention but everyone played so well.
“For United’s goal, I thought there were a few players offside. They had three players standing inside us, which is offside in my book.
“But it was a great free-kick – Boaz couldn’t do anything about it – and it was something we just had to get over.
“It shows how well we played that we came back and won.”
Ridgewell joked that he was the motivation behind Berahino’s winner – after pestering the young striker to be greedy.
Conversely, he was relieved that new signing Morgan Amalfitano ignored his advice!
Ridgewell added: “Morgan’s was a brilliant individual goal,
“When he went through I thought he was going to shoot, but he dummied.
“At that point, my heart sank with everyone else’s! I was shouting ‘shoot’ but he remained calm and it was a great goal.
“Saido had a chance earlier on his left foot and I just shouted at him to shoot.
“I said ‘you’re a centre forward – forget about passing’.
“He duly obliged on the next one. It was a great finish.
“The great thing about Saido is he’s a brilliant lad with his feet on the floor.
“He’s also a good footballer and such a great finisher.
“He’s got a big future ahead of him if he keeps his head down.”