United remain top of the Barclays Premier League but the gap has been cut to four points following the Reds’ 1-1 draw against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
Patrice Evra headed the Reds in front before Swans striker Michu – who else? – netted his 13th goal of the season in a see-sawing first half.
Sir Alex’s men then dominated second-half proceedings and twice hit the crossbar through Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick. But despite the lion's share of possession, a string of half chances and the introduction of veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes as the clock ticked down, the Reds couldn’t force a winner and had to settle for a first draw in 28 games.
Still, the result ensures United are top on Christmas Day and Sir Alex's men now have home games against Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion to focus on.
At the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, the manager kept good on his promise to rotate his squad over the festive period and Sir Alex sent out his 26th different back-five combination of 2012. Most notable in this latest incarnation was the return of Nemanja Vidic, who made his 250th United appearance and his first start in more than three months.
The front six, however, remained unchanged from the Reds’ win against Sunderland eight days earlier. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley anchored the midfield, while Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young provided the width. In front of them, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie led the line.