MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 21 – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fears an Everton backlash following the Merseyside club’s heartbreaking FA Cup semi-final loss to Liverpool last weekend.
League leaders United face David Moyes’ side on Sunday looking to maintain a five-point lead over second placed Manchester City as they close in on a 20th English league title.
Ferguson, a big admirer of Moyes, was always expecting a tough game against the Toffees but believes Everton will be all the more dangerous at Old Trafford after the defeat against their old enemy at Wembley last weekend.
“It was a bad one for Everton, they went into that game with good form,” said Ferguson of Everton’s semi-final defeat.
“It was a disappointment for them, losing a semi-final in a derby.
“It’s always a blow to you and I’m sure David and the rest of them will have suffered from that. I think no matter whatever the circumstances of last week it was always going to be a hard game anyway. That’s the way I view it.
“We expect hard games, we’re ready for hard games, that’s the good thing about us.”
Ferguson will be hoping a former Evertonian – centre-forward Wayne Rooney – continues his remarkable goalscoring form this season after the number nine took his season’s tally to 31 goals in the 4-0 victory over Aston Villa last weekend.
Rooney now stands just one goal short of equalling Dennis Viollet and George Best in fourth-place on the all-time United goalscoring tables with 179 goals.
However, Ferguson knows that Moyes will ensure that Everton provide stiff opposition to Rooney and United’s progress.
Moyes marked his 10th anniversary at Goodison Park this season and, although Ferguson does not hold a view on whether his fellow Scotsman has taken the club as far as he can, he is full of admiration for the job performed by the Everton boss.
“He’s been there 10 years, I can’t judge that, only David can sense that,” said Ferguson. “But what he’s achieved in 10 years has been phenomenal.
“He’s not got the financial resources of other clubs with the same type of history but he’s managed to do it time and time again.
“He defies the logic of the squad he’s had to deal with and still got decent results and always keeps his team in the top half of the league, amazing.”
Moyes’s side are set to be without full-back Leighton Baines who picked up a hamstring injury in the FA Cup semi-final defeat, but one man who may feature is former United midfielder Darron Gibson.
Gibson could make his first appearance back at Old Trafford on Sunday since his January move to the Toffees from United and the Republic of Ireland international does not believe he was a failure with the Reds.
“Some people would say I failed at United and towards the end, I wasn’t playing my best,” claimed Gibson. “I wouldn’t say I failed, I’d say I never got the chance I wanted.
“It is nice to know you’re in with a more-than-likely chance of playing every week, rather than not.
“As a footballer you want to play and when it came down to it, I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked. That meant I had to move.”