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Manchester, United Kingdom – Alex Ferguson admits the destiny of the Premier League title is in Manchester United's hands after they opened up a commanding 12-point lead over Manchester City with a 2-0 win against Everton.
Following City's defeat at Southampton on Saturday, Ferguson reversed an earlier plan to rest key players ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Real Madrid and put out his strongest line-up on Sunday, with the exception of defender Rio Ferdinand who watched from the stands.
The result was a convincing win at Old Trafford and Ferguson acknowledged United are in pole position to regain the title with 12 games to play, although he refused to completely write off City.
“I was going to make seven changes, but when I got the City result I thought this would be a more important game for us,” said Ferguson.
“It would give us a comfortable lead and we could make changes later on in the season.
“Realistically we knew if we got a result it would put us in a fantastic position.
“Now, we look at the next game and win the next game. That is the only thing we can do, then win the next game. That is all we should think about.
“We have to win our games anyway – it doesn't matter what happened to City on Saturday. That is the way we should look at it. I've said it for weeks – concentrate on our own game and we'll be okay.”
Ferguson also paid tribute to veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs as the 39-year-old continued to re-write the Premier League record books by scoring the first goal before Robin van Persie wrapped up victory in first half injury-time.
Giggs helped calm the early nerves around Old Trafford with his goal after 13 minutes, his first in the league this season.
It means that the Welsh international has now scored a league goal in every one of his 23 seasons with United, a run which covers every campaign in Premier League history.
“I think all the superlatives have been used and he doesn't need any because his legacy lives on,” said Ferguson of the player to whom he handed a debut in March 1991.
“He's just a fantastic human being. In this game again, at 38 years of age ... or is he 39? Maybe 40, I don't know, but he's up and down that pitch all day and showing fantastic energy for the game. It's wonderful to see.”
One interested spectator at Old Trafford on Sunday was Jose Mourinho, manager of the Real Madrid side which will face United at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.
The two iconic managers met for a chat before kick-off and Ferguson is now clearly relishing locking horns with his young adversary once more.
“I had a chat with him, he had a great result yesterday again,” said Ferguson of Real's 4-1 victory over Sevilla in La Liga.
“It will be a fantastic game on Wednesday and I just hope we have everyone out on the pitch I want out on the pitch.”
Ferguson confirmed that Phil Jones (leg injury) and Jonny Evans (cramp) were taken out of the Everton game as a precaution.
Meanwhile, Everton manager David Moyes echoed the thoughts of many when he claimed that City face a mountain if they are to hold onto their title.
“In football you never know,” said Moyes. “But 12 points against a club like Man United is a big gap to make up.” – Sapa-AFP