Sir Alex Ferguson identified Manchester United's title-winning experience as vital after the defeat of Tottenham Hotspur and pledged they would "not get nervous" at the point of the season that, courtesy of the Old Trafford manager, is known as squeaky-bum time.

Ferguson admitted his side had "carried a bit of luck" in the 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane but he also described it as United's most satisfying result away from Old Trafford this season. The gap to Manchester City at the top has been brought back to two points, and United's manager believes his players have the championship knowhow to catch and overhaul a club chasing their first title since 1968.

"You can drop points, surprise points, and I think it will happen, but the important thing for us now is not to drop as many as they do," Ferguson said. "We've got experience. We won't get nervous, we're enjoying it, and the battling performance today against a very, very good team tells you that we're up for it. To come here and get that result is really first class.

"I would say that was our hardest away game of the season. If you look at their home record this season and their percentage of possession in home games, it's 58% on average. That tells you how difficult it was to come to Spurs and win. They'd lost one other home game – their first one, against City, when they had a few injury problems. So that was the magnitude of our challenge today."

The defeat means Tottenham have taken only eight points from their last seven games and, for the first time, Harry Redknapp was asked whether the speculation about him becoming the next England manager was affecting the team.

He denied it, emphatically. "My focus is completely on Spurs. I don't take days off, I'm here every day and I don't think anybody could have seen that game and come away not thinking we were unlucky. We just didn't get a break but you couldn't fault our effort.

"I'm suicidal when we lose usually. I'm the worst person in the world when it comes to dealing with losing but I really can't be disappointed with that performance. I came in at half-time and I really couldn't believe we were losing. We'd dominated them."

Ferguson sympathised with the Spurs manager, admitting United had been pinned back for long periods. "Scoring right on half-time was a killer for Tottenham. They were probably sitting in that dressing room wondering how it was 1-0 because they had played ever so well."

Tottenham scored a consolation through the substitute Jermain Defoe and also had an Emmanuel Adebayor goal controversially ruled out when the game was still 0-0. Ferguson said: "The ball was going in and he stopped it from going in the net. I don't know why he's done that. But he definitely handballed it."

Ferguson added: "We dug in, defended fantastically well, the goalkeeper [David de Gea] made a fantastic save in the second half [from Jake Livermore's deflected shot]. In the first half, we were never at the races. The smoothness in our game didn't come until the second goal."

United now embark on a run of eight games that has them playing West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, QPR, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Everton before meeting City at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April. "We're in a really good position now," Ferguson said.

"We've got players coming back. [Tom]Cleverley will be fit next week, [Chris]Smalling will be fit for Thursday's game [against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League]. Players are coming back, and if we've got a full squad we've got a better chance. We've shown this before, and we know exactly what we have to do."