Master tactician at work

The value of being able to rest players was proved on Sunday when United's first-choice team, who had did not play in midweek, exploded straight from kick-off against Chelsea to score in the first minute and threaten unrelentingly in a 2-1 victory.

Beating the champions, who would have gone top of the league on goal difference with a win, left United needing one point from their final two games to secure a record 19th league title. Their first chance to complete the formalities comes on Saturday when they travel to Blackburn Rovers and once it is in the bag, they could rest some legs before the Champions League final against Barcelona.

"We just need one point now and I think, knowing the players, they won't muck it up, they'll get their point -- there's no doubt about that," manager Alex Ferguson, who is within touching distance of a 12th Premier League title, said.

"In the next few weeks, we've got to be doing some work on Barcelona. But we've got to get a point at Blackburn (first)." Ferguson had made nine changes for Wednesday's Champions League semifinal second leg against Schalke 04 from the side that set up a comfortable lead in the first leg with an eye on the title-decider against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

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