5 Things We Learned: Manchester United 4 Wigan Athletic 0
By Thomas Doyle
1. Buttner Can Challenge Evra
With Patrice Evra out injured against Roberto Martinez’s side, the stage was set for Alexander Buttner to make his Manchester United debut – and what a debut it was. The young Dutchman was a livewire down the left for United, and ended up with a superb goal and an assist by the final whistle, with Evra looking on in concern. It must be remembered that Wigan at home is the perfect type of game for a marauding left-back to shine in, and greater challenges will lie ahead for Buttner. The Frenchman’s form has been shaky over the past two seasons, but Evra will surely not be immediately dropped for the upcoming Liverpool game, such is his experience and talent. However, Sir Alex Ferguson now has real strength in this position, with another attacking option in the form of the young Dutchman, and Evra will now face a true fight to retain his position.
2. Powell Off With A Bang
Most of the transfer talk over the summer for United fans concerned either Robin van Persie or Shinji Kagawa, with Nick Powell slipping in under the radar somewhat for a mere £4 million. The 18-year-old, though, could well be one of Ferguson’s most important signings if he fulfils his potential. With Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes coming off on 71 minutes with the game won at 3-0, the glittering past of United gave way to the promising future of Powell, and he duly delivered. The young Englishman sold the Wigan defence with a lovely touch after being fed by Hernandez, before letting fly with a rasping 20 yard drive that found the net, evoking memories of Paul Scholes’ ferocious efforts. The ease and confidence of the move belied his years, and he looked at home at Old Trafford. Ferguson told MUTV: “Powell is going to be a really good player who, we hope, will fill Paul Scholes’ boots in terms of he’s got terrific vision, good temperament, two great feet, is quick and is a great striker of the ball.” If Powell continues to impress with efforts like this, he will be playing more games this season than first thought.
3. Scholes Still Has It
Paul Scholes’ clipped finish to open the scoring and relieve the tension on Saturday was by no means extraordinary but the timing of his run certainly was. On his 700th appearance for the club, the 37-year-old darted into the area from the edge of the 18-yard-box completely unnoticed, and had the simplest of jobs to convert after Ali al-Habsi spilled the Nani’s curled cross. While the ‘Ginger Prince’ may not be able to play every week, he still has vital experience that may prove invaluable for United this season. His game was never based on pace and athleticism, but on controlled possession and clever movement, and by the looks of it, he still has both. He has scored on his first, 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th, 500th and now 700th appearance.
4. Hernandez Now Has His Chance
With Robin van Persie rested after his injury in midweek and Wayne Rooney still on the mend, Javier Hernandez has got his chance to lead the line earlier in the season than he, or anybody else would have imagined. He didn’t get off to a good start on Saturday, as his tame penalty was stopped by Ali al-Habsi, but he found time and space in the Wigan area in the second half to finish Alexander Buttner’s cross-shot to give United breathing space. The Mexican will face a challenge to keep his place in the team once Rooney and van Persie are fully fit, but while he is scoring important goals for United, that can only be a good thing – for him and for the team.
5. Goals, Goals, And More Goals
Ferguson was adamant with the signing of Robin van Persie that United would never lose another title on goal difference, and the way in which United looked to punish Wigan in the second half shows that the players have taken note. It could have been a simple 2-0 stroll after Hernandez effectively locked up the game with half an hour remaining, yet the 4-0 score line suggests United will continue to search for goals in encounters such as these in future. Despite failing to score against Everton on the opening day, the following three fixtures have returned 10 goals, an impressive haul. While two of those games were narrow 3-2 victories, the extra firepower could prove to be the difference as United seek to wrestle the title from Manchester City’s clutches. More of the same please…
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