MANCHESTER – Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson kept Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa in the stands Sunday as the Premier League leaders prevailed 2-0 at home over Everton.
It was the first time Kagawa, who had just returned from Japan after Wednesday’s friendly against Latvia in Kobe, had been left out of the United squad since returning from a knee injury on Dec. 29.
Ferguson said he had been planning to field a weakened team that may have included Kagawa, but the manager had a change of heart after second-placed rivals Manchester City lost 3-1 at Southampton a day earlier.
The weekend’s results left United 12 points clear of City in the Premiership race ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid.
“I was going to make seven changes but when I got the result, I felt this was a more important game for us because it could give us a comfortable lead,” Ferguson told the club’s official website.
“We can make changes later on in the season. It is realistic; we knew that if we got a good result today then we’d be in a positive position.”