Sir Alex Ferguson has classified the 12 point lead Manchester United have in the Premier League over neighbours and arch-rivals Manchester City as “sensational”.

And United’s manager reiterated in his programme notes ahead of Monday’s FA Cup tie against Reading the importance of taking advantage of the Citizens’ stumble in the last league fixture, according to The Guardian.

“Once I knew City had lost [at Southampton, 3-1] we’d been gifted an enormous opportunity to push on,” Ferguson wrote.

Aware of the importance of increasing the lead over City, Fergie changed his plans of resting a few of his key players ahead of the European clash against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

“A nine-point lead was good but not sensational – the chance of a 12-point advantage was a different story, so I scrapped my plans to rest a fair number of players [for Everton] with Real Madrid in mind three days later,” he added.

Ferguson also explained that his squad understood the message a win would send out that they did not let him down saying that “the players sensed the opening for them was there”.

Manchester United ended up beating Everton 2-0 with Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie scoring the goals to start pulling away from the pack in the Premier League table.