Manchester United moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
In what could prove to be the day on which Manchester City’s slim hopes of retaining their title finally faded, Roberto Mancini’s men suffered a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park. This was the scene of one of the surprises of the season just last week, when Wigan Athletic scored three goals in a little under four minutes to dump Everton out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Whatever David Moyes has drilled into his players since that disappointment has obviously had a positive effect, as it was a different Toffees side which faced the champions at midday. A first half goal from Leon Osman put the home side in front, and despite being reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Steven Pienaar on the hour mark, they managed to stand firm against the champions and even scored a second, through Nikica Jelavic, in stoppage time.
United were expected to take advantage of this slip by beating Reading at Old Trafford in the evening kick-off to stretch their lead at the top of the table to 15 points, and although Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were far from their best, a Wayne Rooney goal on 21 minutes was enough to settle the contest. With just nine matches left to play it would take an almighty collapse for the Reds to hand the initiative back to their rivals, but after seeing an eight-point lead vanish with just six games remaining last term, their manager is taking nothing for granted.
“You don’t get points and medals for being complacent and we won’t be,” Ferguson told MUTV. “I think the players are conscious of the importance of the games now. The team has shown great consistency and played a lot of great football. Our goal difference is big over City now – 13 goals. It’s a great position to be in but the only thing we can do is win our next game.”