Manchester, United Kingdom – Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has promised there will be no more shocks against Everton when David Moyes' team head to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Moyes' men fought back from two goals down with eight minutes remaining to snatch a 4-4 draw at United that swung the Premier League title race towards Manchester City in April last season.
They also beat United 1-0 at the start of this season at Goodison Park but, while Ferguson knows his players have every reason to be wary of Everton, he maintains the lessons of last season have been learnt.
“It was anticipating the unexpected and we didn't do that (in the 1-0 defeat) against Everton,” Ferguson said.
“But we were 4-2 up with eight minutes to go last season and that definitely cost us the league, no question. It won't happen again. We hope we're 4-2 with a few minutes to go this time.”
Ferguson once attempted to recruit Moyes as his assistant manager and is full of praise for the work his fellow Scot has done in more than a decade on Merseyside.
Moyes' current deal expires at the end of this season and Ferguson believes his departure would have a significant impact on a club that has grown used to challenging for a place in the top four.
“I've read that his contract is up and that's obviously a concern for Everton,” Ferguson said.
“It would be a blow to them because good quality managers with consistency and perseverance would be a big, big loss.
“They are a difficult opponent. You see the record this year, they've lost three and drawn 12 so they're hard to beat and that's David style.
“It's gradual progress because when he first took over there was no money to spend and the squad wasn't near to what he's got now.
“But given time you can do these things and that's the great value they get from David because each year they progress to a good level.”
Ferguson is hopeful that defender Phil Jones can overcome shingles in order to feature in the game at Old Trafford.
England winger Ashley Young should also be available after a knee injury and Michael Carrick will return from a thigh problem, although Ferguson may make changes ahead of the Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie both made their debuts at Goodison Park in August and Japan international Kagawa believes the Dutchman can prove pivotal in the title race.
“He's a player who can do a crucial job to win in almost every game. He is a top player, obviously.” Kagawa said.
“It's a wonderful experience for me to be able to play with him. For the team, it's always encouraging to have players like Van Persie and (Wayne) Rooney when you're attacking.”
Moyes believes that Everton's suprise win on the opening weekend of the season provided the catalyst for his team's impressive challenge for a European place.
“I don't sit back thinking the 4-4 was a great game – it got us a point, that's all,” Moyes said.
“But we finished last season with a bit of momentum, and the 1-0 win at the start of this one probably set us up. That game gave us a boost again.”
Everton are vying with Tottenham, currently in fourth place three points ahead of Moyes's team, for the coveted final Champions League berth, with Arsenal a point behind in sixth place.
“We're having a great season, yet Manchester United are 20
points ahead of us. I was shaking my head in disbelief,” Moyes said.
“It says a lot about the level you have to reach if you're going to have any chance of competing for the title.” – Sapa-AFP