Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he fielded an almost full-strength line-up in Manchester United's match against Everton on Sunday, in order to take full advantage of title rivals Manchester City's defeat against Southampton the previous day.
The Red Devils have now moved 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, with a 2-0 victory over the Toffees at Old Trafford, courtesy of yet another milestone goal from veteran Ryan Giggs and a second from talisman Robin van Persie.
With United facing a much-awaited Champions League last 16 first-leg encounter against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in midweek, Ferguson had originally planned to make seven changes to his line-up, to keep all his key players fresh for the trip. But when City suffered a shock defeat at St Mary's on Saturday, the Scot changed his mind and deployed a strong team.
"Yes I did. I thought I'd make seven changes but when the City result happened I thought it would be a more important game for us because it gives us a comfortable lead. We knew if we got a result it would put us in a fantastic position. We can make changes later in the season," Ferguson told Sky Sports.
The same fixture in April last season saw United scupper a two-goal lead twice to concede a draw 4-4; a result which eventually turned out to be lethal to their title chase. Ferguson was pleased to see his men overcome a positive start from Everton this time before taking control and clinching all three points.
"You have to remember your bad experiences and that was one last year. We showed a steely determination this time. I thought they dominated for 20 minutes and they did a couple of new things. They've got great delivery from corner kicks with Baines but I thought we were really in control," the manager pointed out.
By opening up a 12-point lead at the top, with just 12 games remaining, United have one hand on the Premier League title. But Ferguson insists they should not lose their focus even at this point.
"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," he added.