Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Norwich City
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 26 April 2014
Kick-off: 17:30 BST
Ryan Giggs’ first game as interim manager ended in victory as Norwich City lost 4-0 at Old Trafford for the third time in succession.
A brace apiece from Wayne Rooney and substitute Juan Mata guided Manchester United to three points in what was the first match under the managerial team of the Class of ’92.
It was Rooney who had the first shot of the game albeit a blocked one before Antonio Valencia also saw his shot blocked behind for a corner in the same move.
With the Theatre of Dreams rocking, the United faithful began a chorus of chants involving the names of those of Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, and were watching a United team boasting 60% possession in the opening ten minutes of the game.
Patrice Evra’s deep cross to the back post was headed away by Martin Olsson, only to fall at the feet of Danny Welbeck, who took just one touch to set himself, before unleashing a venomous shot that was parried behind by John Ruddy.
Rooney’s dangerous ball into the box was cleared by Michael Turner before a Welbeck and Valenica one-two was cut out as Sir Alex Ferguson watched on from the stands, and Giggs began to roam his technical area.
Kagawa’s cross-field ball out to Phil Jones on the far right saw the former latch onto the right-back’s cross, only for the ball to fall behind for a goal-kick.
Valencia’s drive into the box saw him produce a powerful shot that was saved by England hopeful Ruddy, as the resolute Norwich defence looked to frustrate United going into half-time.
That all changed when Welbeck won a penalty with five minutes to go until the break.
Jones’ over hit pass towards Tom Cleverley ended up going through three Norwich players as it fell for Welbeck, who was brought down by Steven Whittaker.
The ex-Rangers man can have no complaints about the decision, although he can think himself lucky that he remained on the pitch as he was the last man and Welbeck was about shoot, but referee Lee Probert didn’t even produce a yellow for the fortunate offender.
Rooney stepped up and sent Ruddy the wrong way, planting the ball firmly into the bottom left-hand corner, as United headed back to the dressing room with the lead.
That lead was doubled less than three minutes into the second half.
Kagawa’s pass out wide to Rooney who was hovering on the left wing saw the England international cut inside with acres of space in front of him, and although he slipped as he struck the ball, he was thankful that Ruddy was beaten, with the ball curling into the bottom left-hand corner once more.
Evra then had his shot blocked, but it fell for Welbeck, whose chest control and fine volley was beaten away by lifelong United fan Ruddy for a corner.
The resulting corner saw captain Nemanja Vidic head over, before Rooney had a curled effort held before Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick was parried away by David De Gea.
The result looked to have been sealed just after the hour mark.
Rooney’s curled effort was saved, but Valencia retrieved the ball on the by-line before teeing up Jones, whose cross was tapped in by Mata, who had only just come on as a substitute for Welbeck.
Bradley Johnson shot wide for the visitors before Ruddy held the ball after Mata’s flick from Rooney’s cross.
A fourth was added when Evra’s overlapping run saw him latch onto substitute Ashley Young’s through ball, and the Frenchman’s cross fell kindly to Valencia at the back post, whose first time effort across goal was headed home by Mata for his second of the game.
The two wide men then looked to get in on the act, as first Young saw his shot fly wide of the left-hand post before Valencia’s shot was safely held by a busy Ruddy.
Substitute Johan Elmander dispossessed Rooney on the edge of the box, but his mazy run lead to the on-loan striker’s shot falling wide without testing De Gea.
Rooney’s audacious chip landed on top of the net, Young saw another shot go wide, before De Gea was called into action for his first real save of the match, turning behind Johnson’s long range strike.
Snodgrass then curled a effort just over after cutting in from the left, before Olsson’s deflected shot went behind off the crossbar, before the resulting corner saw Johnson blast the ball over, as Norwich’s late cameo led to nothing.
The final minute of stoppage time saw Mata’s perfectly timed pass play in Javier Hernandez, but his effort went wide, as United failed to add a fifth to the score line.
As Giggs shook hands with caretaker boss Neil Adams, he walked along the Old Trafford touchline acknowledging all sections of the stadium with applause, and headed back down the tunnel listening to chants of his name, as he began his tenure in perfect fashion.
Norwich sit just a place and a point above the relegation zone, with a trip to Chelsea next week followed by a home game against Arsenal to end the season.
United return to Old Trafford next Saturday for the visit of Sunderland, before Hull City at home and Southampton away end the season for the Reds.
A job well done for Giggs and his team, as they brought the smiles back on the faces of the fans.
More of the same then who knows what lies ahead for this magnificent football club.
Final score: Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney – last week I struggled to find one noticeable performance, but today I find myself with a few to choose from. Jones and Valencia down the right always looked a threat, Mata hardly put a foot wrong when he came on and grabbed himself a brace. Hernandez looked lively during his cameo and Ferdinand rolled back the years with two assured performances at the back. However, I have gone for the obvious choice – Wayne Rooney. His crucial penalty under pressure made the half-time team talk a little easier for Giggs, before his second put any doubts to rest at the start of the second half. He had one or two chances to bag himself a deserved hat-trick too. He popped up on the left-hand side at the beginning of the second half before dropping into central midfield for the final quarter of the game alongside Michael Carrick. A 90 minutes fall of running, as United’s third all-time top goal-scorer lead the way to an impressive three points.
Manchester United team and player ratings: De Gea 7; Jones 7, Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 6; Valencia 7, Carrick 6, Cleverley 5 (Hernandez ’71 – 6), Kagawa 6 (Young ’65 – 6); Rooney 8; Welbeck 6 (Mata ’60 – 7).
Unused subs: Lindegaard, Smalling, Nani, Fletcher.
Interim manager: Ryan Giggs
Norwich team: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson; Fer, Johnson; Snodgrass, Howson, Redmond (Hooper ’69); van Wolfswinkel (Elmander ’56).
Unsued subs: Bunn, Gutierrez, R. Bennett, Tettey, Murphy.