Saturday 25 November 2017

Dominant Reds spring into life

Manchester United 4 Norwich City 0

Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Manchester United ahead against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Photo: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot to put Manchester United ahead against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Photo: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney slips as he strikes the ball to net his second goal for Manchester United against Norwich City. Photo: by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Juan Mata scores his first goal of the day for Manchester United after coming off the bench against Norwich City. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Juan Mata celebrates with Wayne Rooney after scoring his second goal and Manchester United's fourth against Norwich City. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Javier Hernandez misses a late opportunity to put Manchester United five goals up against Norwich City at Old Trafford. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Jamie Jackson at Old Trafford

The sun shone on a late afternoon that had the Manchester United congregation smiling again now Ryan Giggs had supplanted David Moyes as manager. A week described as "a whirlwind" by the Welshman, who was given the job on an interim basis, was expected to end in cathartic victory.

The roar that greeted Giggs as he strode from tunnel to dugout would be the soundtrack to a new era – despite his truncated four-match tenure – in which United would rediscover the champagne football lost under Moyes.

United dominated but passes still went awry, touch could be clumsy and the pattern sideways. Giggs, looking sharp in club suit and shiny black shoes, prowled the technical area occasionally.

After the travails of the Scot's doomed 10-month spell, during which he selected a different XI for his 51 matches in charge, Giggs' line-up for his inaugural game was a first point of intrigue. It did not disappoint. Giggs dropped Juan Mata to the bench and Marouane Fellaini was left out of the squad, while Shinji Kagawa was recalled, along with Tom Cleverley and Rio Ferdinand.

But some 32 minutes in and Cleverley suggested why Moyes had not fancied him. The United No 23 took aim with a shot inside the area only to fashion one of those embarrassing miskicks that has the stadium in stunned silence.

Still, the best move before the break derived from Kagawa, another of the Moyes forgotten men. The Japanese scooped a pass out to Phil Jones on the right then ran into the area. When the defender flicked the ball over it was Kagawa's right boot that nearly opened the scoring.

Moments later Wayne Rooney did, when Steven Whittaker pulled down Welbeck and Lee Probert awarded a penalty that was converted by the Merseysider.

Twenty-three seasons as United's most decorated footballer make Giggs a bona fide club legend. Yet nearly a quarter of a century on from his debut against Everton in this stadium, Giggs admitted feeling odd when sitting down to pen a first column as manager. "I've supported United all my life and I've been connected with the club since I was at school," he wrote. "It's the rock which my life has been built on and I can promise you that I will give this job the best I can in the last four games of the season."

As Giggs sent his players out for the second half he was 45 minutes from what was craved: a maiden win. When Rooney doubled the score by beating John Ruddy from distance only three minutes into the period the place relaxed, and the occasion could be enjoyed. Mata, on for Welbeck in Giggs' 4-3-3, confirmed the result with two strikes.

"To win 4-0 is a dream day for us," he said. "Its always nice to end the game like we did."

Giggs had joined George Clarence 'Lal' Hilditch as United's only player-manager. Hilditch took over in October 1926, and lasted 31 games in a six-month tenure that remains the shortest of all United managers.

With the club pursuing Louis van Gaal to be the next full-time manager, Giggs seems certain to beat Hilditch's record one day. Do not be surprised if he is back, this time as the permanent No 1.

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