Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the character and performance of his young players after the 1-0 win over Chelsea.
With several stars missing through injury, United have been forced to rely on their less experienced players.
"The young players have been carrying the mantle for weeks and their keenness to play has been fantastic," he said.
"The bones of the team are sat in the stand, no use to us. What we face is young players who need consistency."
Captain Roy Keane's reported criticism of some of the younger United players kept the club in the headlines all week, but Ferguson denied the pressure was the most intense of his 19 years at Old Trafford.
"We went 13 games without winning once and people forget these things," said Ferguson.
"Winning is always important here. All the staff and players have shown great dignity. No matter what the criticism, they've just got on with their job."
Ferguson was delighted with the attacking display of his side.
"For an hour we were terrific and then we were under the cosh," he said.
"They really came back at us - that's what champions do. We've done it many times ourselves in the past.
"I thought we sat back a little too much but we were always a threat to them going forward.
"The plan was to make sure we played quick passing football. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy - if you get the ball into these players, something can happen.
"I think the best players were on our team."
Ferguson was also at pains to pay tribute to the vocal support his team had enjoyed from the sell-out Old Trafford crowd after a troubled few weeks.
"The support was maybe the turning point for us," he said.
"They showed how much they cared about the club. Caring for the club can be done in different ways.
"The support was absolutely magnificent, unbelievable. If they're like that all the time we can't let that down. It does raise the ante and put the players under great pressure to do well."