Manchester United bounce back after derby humiliation
A drop of Carling helped Manchester United tackle their hangover. Nothing will erase the memory of Sunday's Demolition Derby, but goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia lifted United's spirits last night.
Well-prepared by Dean Holdsworth, Aldershot worked hard, and in Jermaine McGlashan and Luke Guttridge boasted two players who were certainly not overawed by their distinguished guests and can certainly play at a higher level than League Two. "We're proud of you" came the constant chant from the terrific Shots faithful.
But such was United's control that Alex Ferguson could give the travelling support another glimpse of the future with Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison and Michael Keane. Morrison demonstrated with certain touches that he has potential. But it was the more established names who saw United through.
Aldershot were strangled by the second string of United, Berbatov and Owen taking the sting out of the evening with first-half goals, and Valencia early in the second, but little could dampen the enthusiasm of the home fans.
United were in town for the first time since Law, Kidd and Best scored here in 1970. Aldershot fans serenaded the arriving United staff with chants of "we're going to win 6-1" an ambitious reminder of the visitors' weekend trauma.
If the sight of an inexperienced left-back might have given Holdsworth's men hope, there remained a heavyweight look to the United line-up. When the visitors' names were read out, Aldershot supporters mischieviously enquired "who?" after each one but these were household names.
Nemanja Vidic was back, although still rusty in the opening stages and caught out by Alex Rodman's run, earning a booking. United's captain was partnered at centre-half by Phil Jones with Fabio regularly pushing down the right, linking well with Valencia.
United fans were pleased to see Tom Cleverley back, working hard alongside Ji-sung Park. The South Korean was instrumental in United's opener, teeing up Berbatov, who beat Ross Worner.
Ferguson, sitting in a modest dug-out sponsored by a local glaziers, nodded approvingly. This was all slightly different from his only other visit here, his Aberdeen side playing a friendly in January 1984 when only 400 turned up. Last night, the place was packed to the metal rafters, the Aldershot fans singing throughout even as the goals went in.
Owen had been quiet, but came to life shortly before the break. Berbatov had been the far more involved of United's attack and he made good ground down the right before picking out Owen. These are the situations Owen relishes and the ball disappeared in a blur past Worner.
As the away enclosure reverberated to a chant about Eric Cantona, United scored a superb third that the famous Frenchman would have admired.
Berbatov glided through the middle, slipping the ball left to Mame Biram Diouf, who played it back to Cleverley.
The midfielder spotted Valencia and his response was superb, sending the ball on an unstoppable 25-yard journey past Worner.
The game secured, Ferguson introduced some young blood, firstly the long-legged midfielder Pogba, who soon sent a shot over, and then Morrison.
Desperately chasing a late consolation, Aldershot were inevitably stretched at the back and Valencia sped through the middle, but his finish was wasteful, almost knocking a cameraman off his perch. (© Daily Telegraph, London)