MANCHESTER: Alex Ferguson admits the destiny of the English 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 tomorrow’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 have to look at the next game and win it. That is all we should think about.
“We have to win our games in any way – 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.”
Manager hails Giggs’ legacy
Ferguson also paid tribute to veteran mid-fielder 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.
“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.”
N’Zogbia downs Hammers to boost Villa survival bid
Charles N’Zogbia inspired Aston Villa to a crucial 2-1 win over West Ham as the Premier League strugglers climbed out of the relegation zone on Sunday. Paul Lambert’s team have endured a miserable campaign filled with embarrassing cup exits and woeful league defeats, but N’Zogbia’s influential display gave Villa renewed hope that they can at least avoid sinking into the Championship.
“I think it’s huge for us,” said Lambert. “We’ve taken a lot of knocks but football is a funny game and we are only three points behind Newcastle now. We know what we have got to do and there are 12 games to go. Every game is really tough, but that was a huge win for us, especially with the results for the teams around us this weekend.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2013.
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