Ferguson told to mind his language as United end Chelsea's 40-game run

The United manager was reprimanded on air by Sky reporter Geoff Shreeves for his expletive but Ferguson was in irrepressible mood as he savoured a tumultuous victory over Jose Mourinho's side, which sent his side third in the table and reignited their pursuit of the champions.

After a week in which successive defeats at Middlesbrough and Lille and the notorious Roy Keane interview had aggravated a sense of crisis at Old Trafford, there was a momentous sense of relief when Darren Fletcher, one of the players who had been the target of the United captain's criticism, sent a looping header over Petr Cech in the 31st minute and ultimately condemned Chelsea to their first League reverse since 16 October 2004.

However, when asked if he had ever been under more pressure during his 19 years at the United helm than he was before yesterday's victory, Ferguson bristled: "That's absolute bollocks; people forget we went 13 games without winning once" before being asked to curb his language for the benefit of watching children.

United remain an ominous 10 points behind the reigning champions, but Ferguson insisted: "This is a big result and a big performance. We were terrific for an hour and, though I thought we sat back too much in the last five minutes, we got there. It is an enormous result. You don't get as much consistency when you have to play young lads all the time but they have carried us because of our injuries and they were outstanding. They needed more belief in their own ability and we have tried to instil that in them."

Fletcher was not the only Keane target to respond as the injured club captain would have wished, with Alan Smith producing his finest performance as a midfielder to claim the man-of-the-match award. "Everyone knows where the criticism has come from and it is not just Roy," Smith said. "We need to carry on the belief we showed today."

Chelsea's loss was their third in four games but Mourinho was adamant the end of their unbeaten Premiership record would not spiral into the kind of slump that undermined Arsenal's attempts to retain the title after losing at Old Trafford last season.

"I know what happened to Arsenal but no, it won't happen to us," he said. " I don't think we will need to bounce back from this because we have shown that we have bounced back from Betis. We had chances; we were the better team, but once they scored they defended with great spirit. United have been through a difficult period and though this is a fantastic result for them it will not be enough to stop us becoming champions of England again. I believe we showed here why we are champions."