MANCHESTER: Alex Ferguson has rubbished suggestions that he had a bust-up with veteran winger Ryan Giggs before Manchester Uniteds 3-0 victory over Everton.
The Old Trafford managers team selection raised a few eyebrows as he made five changes to the starting line-up that had drawn 1-1 with Chelsea on Sunday and it looked to have backfired early on as United struggled for fluency.
However, the main talking point was the absence of Giggs on his 33rd birthday and there were rumours he had reacted angrily to being held culpable for the goal that allowed Chelsea to secure a point.
But Ferguson was quick to defend his decision and, with a vital Champions League game against Benfica next week, he insisted that it was important to keep his squad fresh as they enter a crucial period of the campaign.
Ferguson said: I told Ryan Giggs on Sunday that he wouldnt be playing today. He is 33 today and you have got to look after the old species!
I felt that we needed to change the team because we are playing Benfica next Wednesday and we couldnt afford to have them going into that game cold.
Some changes were forced on us, like Nemanja Vidic, who had taken an elbow to the jaw.
We thought it was fractured and we sent him for an X-ray but fortunately it is not. Its just very, very tender and we had to leave him out. Playing (Cristiano) Ronaldo was a bit of a risk and he had to come off eventually. But he wanted to play and thats good.
Ronaldo set United on their way to a victory that keeps them three points clear at the top of the table with a superb goal in the 38th minute before Patrice Evra and John OShea wrapped up matters in the second half.
Ferguson added: It was important to get the goal before half-time. James Beattie has got a fantastic spring and the lad caused us a lot of problems with that. Everton played well around that and we needed a breakthrough.
We were starting to get some pattern to the play before the goal but it was a fluent display. The goal just settled us down. When you make a lot of changes, you are not going to get the flow of the game that you had before.
I thought we were okay because we had a lot of athleticism in the team and a lot of players wanted to do well. AFP