Wayne Rooney celebrates one of his two goals – Source: The Guardian
Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City
Saturday 26th April 2014
United lifted the doom and gloom around the club by giving interim manager Ryan Giggs a perfect start with a comprehensive beating of relegation threatened Norwich City at Old Trafford. A double from Wayne Rooney (the first from the spot just before the break, and the second just after) killed the game and another double from substitute Juan Mata (continuing his good recent form in front of goal) ensured the club legend got the victory which the Theatre Of Dreams demanded.
The new boss got a rapturous welcome from the fans who are used to seeing him out on the pitch as a player. They seemed to love seeing him in a suit and tie, as he took his seat in the famous raised dugout alongside fellow class of 92 graduates Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville. United did not have everything their own way as a determined City side fighting for their lives worked hard to keep them out early on. However, once the deadlock was broken, it could have been five, six, seven, any number you want.
As he promised in his press conference on Friday, Giggs’ United played with far more pace, tempo, passion and – above all – width that actually mattered, not just get the ball wide and toss the ball in as United did early in the season under David Moyes, during a disappointing 2-2 home draw with basement team Fulham, where they set a Premier League record for crosses during a game. This was real width, used to stretch the opposition and get the full backs pushed on the overlap. The third and fourth goals coming from crosses from Phil Jones and Patrice Evra.
Danny Welbeck had United’s best effort before they took the lead. His powerful shot was well saved by Norwich keeper John Ruddy at his near post, after a cross from the left came all the way through to him. United eventually broke down the Canaries’ resistance in the 40th minute as Welbeck was dragged down by Steven Whittaker who – for some reason only known to referee Lee Probert – did not receive a straight red card for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. He did not get a card of any description, amazing! Wayne Rooney dispatched the penalty with little fuss, sending Ruddy the wrong way with a confident side foot finish to open the flood gates.
Rooney extended the lead just after the break in the 48th minute with a beautiful curled effort, in off Ruddy’s far left hand post from twenty yards. He had been given the freedom of Old Trafford to cut across Norwich’s defence from the left hand side. Welbeck was denied again with Ruddy making a stunning save to keep out his powerful volley from the edge of the box, and then outgoing skipper Nemanja Vidic headed just over from a Rooney corner after a good flick on by the majestic Michael Carrick. Carrick did not give a ball away all evening.
Then it was time for sub Juan Mata to put the game well out of Norwich’s reach, as he tucked home very well from a wonderful Jones cross in the 62nd minute. United’s Domination was further enhanced as Mata nodded in an Antonio Valencia effort in the 72nd minute, after a good move lead to Evra standing up an excellent cross to the far post. United could have had several other goals. Rooney could easily have had a hat-trick as two curled efforts were well kept out by Ruddy. He also saw an audacious chip land on the roof of the net, inches away from a great goal.
Substitute Javier Hernandez missed a wonderful chance late on, when he found himself one-on-one with the Goalkeeper, but he dragged his shot wide, having been released by an excellently timed pass from Mata. Norwich had a few decent efforts from distance, a free-kick and a shot from long range were well saved by David De Gea, and another effort from well outside the area deflected onto the crossbar, but Norwich will be disappointed with their effort in a game which they needed to get something out of.
Norwich need points in their fight for survival but a crowd of 75,208 went home happy with smiles on their faces, just as Ryan Giggs had promised.
Man Of The Match: Michael Carrick gets it for me. It’s amazing what a change of manager and philosophy can do for a player who has looked lost all season. He returned to last season’s form in this game, the form that lead to him being nominated for PFA Player of the Year. He sat between Rio and Vidic all evening, and because more people were moving forward and making runs, with the fullbacks bombing on, he was left with space to conduct the game and hardly wasted a ball. The whole game revolved around him, and he set everything in motion.
Thanks for reading,