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Where have all the "hard men" gone?

ESPN FC & Howler
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City loss changed Fergie's mind

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he had plans to make seven changes to his side for Sunday's win over Everton before title rivals Manchester City suffered a shock 3-1 loss at Southampton on Saturday.

• Sunday's Premier League review
• Martin: United dent Everton hopes
• Okwonga: Jones sets tone in win • Fergie praises record-breaker Giggs

City's defeat presented United with an opportunity to go 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, and United duly delivered as they saw off Everton 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Ferguson was planning to rotate his starting XI ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Real Madrid in the Champions League, only to have a change of heart after seeing the champions slump at St Mary's.

"Yeah it did," he told Sky Sports 1, when asked if Saturday's result had prompted a change of heart.

"I thought I'd make about seven changes, but when I saw the result yesterday, I knew how important the game today would be for us and we can make more changes later on in the season."

United's triumph over Everton, who claimed a thrilling 4-4 draw in the corresponding fixture last season, came via goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie.

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