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Football | Barclays Premier League

Gamble puts United in 'fantastic position'



Alex Ferguson admitted his selection gamble had paid off after Manchester United moved 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday.

With United facing a tricky Champions League last 16 first leg tie at Real Madrid on Wednesday, Ferguson had originally planned to make seven changes to his team against Everton in a bid to keep his key players fresh for the trip to Spain.

But when Ferguson saw that second placed Manchester City had suffered a shock defeat at Southampton on Saturday, the United manager changed his mind and sent out a full-strength line-up.

Ferguson's decision to go for the kill paid off handsomely as first half goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie left United with one hand on the trophy with 12 games to play.

"I was going to make about seven changes to the game but when I saw yesterday's result I changed that because we knew if we got a result it would put us in a fantastic position," Ferguson said.

"We've got to win our games regardless of what happens with City and if we concentrate on our own games we'll be okay."

United's 12-point lead is their biggest advantage at the top of the Premier League table since May 2001 and Ferguson agreed his team are in pole position to regain the title from arch rivals City.

But the Scot knows United blew an eight-point lead in the closing weeks of the season just a year ago, with Everton's 4-4 draw at Old Trafford one of the decisive results, so he was relieved to see off the Toffees this time.

"I thought they dominated for 20 minutes and they did a couple of new things," Ferguson said. "They've got great delivery from corner kicks with (Leighton) Baines but I thought we were really in control.

"You have to remember your bad experiences and that was one last year. We showed a steely determination this time."

Meanwhile, United winger Giggs expects his squad's strength in depth will be the decisive factor in the title run-in.

"Now we just have to continue our good form. If we get the results, we'll be okay," he said.

"We've got players on the bench and not even getting on the bench who would walk into a lot of other teams.

"I think we've got enough experience in there but you never take anything for granted. The strength of the squad should see us through."

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