22/01/2011 17:55, Report by Adam Bostock
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Boss toasts team display

Sir Alex Ferguson saluted the collective effort after Saturday's demolition of Birmingham, even if the scoresheet was once again dominated by Dimitar Berbatov.

The Bulgarian striker bagged his third hat-trick of the 2010/11 campaign but like the other scorers Nani and Ryan Giggs, he was also involved in creating openings for others. And it wasn't just the starting eleven who impressed - Sir Alex sent on Darron Gibson for Michael Carrick in an enforced early change, before taking advantage of United's comfortable lead to give Fabio and Michael Owen a run-out.

"It helps when you score an early goal," the boss told MUTV. "Getting one after a minute forces the opposition to open up. They have to face the game from a different perspective and we capitalised on that. It was a good score at half-time and I was able to take Patrice Evra off and give him a break, and bring young Fabio on. Then I was able to take Ryan Giggs off because we've got a big game on Tuesday [at Blackpool]."

Giggs' goal - virtually the last kick of the first half - epitomised the performance: "The third goal was a very exciting goal," said Sir Alex. "First of all Berba won the ball, then there was the interplay with Wayne and a fantastic ball from Wayne to Ryan. It was a really exciting goal and coming right on half-time it killed the match."

It was fitting that Giggs should score, the day after both he and his manager talked about the winger's extraordinary 20-year top-flight career extending into next season. "He could easily play for another year, he's as fresh as a daisy," said the boss. "We manage him in the right way and he looks after himself correctly. Being able to take him off today was a bonus."

For all Giggs' evergreen brilliance, the headlines will go to Berbatov. "He was marvellous and he could have scored more," said Sir Alex. "We were a little bit wasteful with our

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