Reds in title hunt with victory over Latics



Wayne Rooney returned for Manchester United as the Reds cruised to victory over nine-man Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford. The routine win, courtesy of headed goals by Patrice Evra and Javier Hernández, brings United level on points with leaders Chelsea as the Londoners slumped to a second Premier League defeat in a row.

Rooney came on with 30 minutes to go, to a mixed reception, with United now second only on goal difference.

It was a routine win for United over Wigan, with two of Roberto Martinez’ men sent off, but another limited performance from Sir Alex Ferguson’s men. But the victory sends United to within touching distance of the Premier League lead – all the more remarkable that the Scot’s outfit is yet to perform anywhere near previous standards so far this season.

Evra headed home Park Ji-Sung’s cross just before half-time, capitalising on Ali Al Habsi’s mistake, before Hernandez wrapped up the win, heading home from Rafael da Silva’s centre.

Wigan had Antolin Alcaraz sent off for two bookable offences before Hugo Rodallega was red carded for a dangerous tackle on United’s Brazilian full-back.

That both Chelsea and Arsenal slumped to defeat is a huge boon to United, with the Reds able to take the Premier League lead by next weekend. With United barely making it out of second gear this season, rivals’ inconsistencies have kept Ferguson’s team in the hunt.

“It has been a good day for us, no question of that,” said Ferguson.

“If you had said at the start of the day would you take being joint top of the league I would have said ‘yes’.

“We know that come the second half of the season we will definitely get better and now we are joint top with Chelsea.”

Ferguson left Dimitar Berbatov out of the squad altogether, claiming the omission was on tactical grounds. That the Bulgarian had failed to score in the last 10 matches hardly made it a difficult decision for the United manager, although the £30 million striker failed to make even the bench.

With Rooney on the bench, United began with Gabriel Obertan and Federico Macheda leading the line. The pair’s introduction at Villa Park last week swung the match United’s way and a start at Old Trafford yesterday was reward indeed.

If Ferguson, mindful of Wigan’s atrocious record against United felt comfortable with none of his leading strikers in the side, then the visitors almost took advantage in the opening 45.

Indeed, the Latics’ arguably had the best of the opening chances as first Jordi Gomez fired over the bar, then Ronnie Stam struck wide following some hesitant United defending.

French winger Charles N’Zogbia beat three United defenders before Edwin Van der Sar saved at the former Newcastle player’s feet. Then referee Martin Atkinson turn down Wigan’s appeal for a penalty, as captain Nemanja Vidic appeared to drag N’Zogbia over in the box.

Martinez’ had much to admire in the resilient performance of his team though, despite not taking advantage of early chances. The Latics both frustrated United and worked well on the break during the opening period.

United, by contrast, retained possession well but often lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Not for the first time the Reds’ midfield often failed to work, with Nani the sole creative outlet.

Despite this United took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Evra scored his first goal for more than three years, heading home Park’s cross.

Rooney came on to both jeers and boos on the hour, although the reception was perhaps better than predicted after the striker effectively blackmailed the club into a new contract last month. That Rooney is yet to make the promised apology to supporters is not forgotten.

In any case, the game ended as any kind of contest with Wigan reduced to 10 men shortly after Rooney’s entry, with Alcaraz sent off for a second yellow card after fouling Darren Fletcher. Ten became 9 as Rodallega saw red for a wild tackle on Rafael and substitute Hernández completed the victory, heading home his fourth Premier League goal of the season.

Rooney’s return made the headlines though, although in truth the 25-year-old striker’s return was largely uneventful. He went close with a header from Rafael’s cross, which was tipped over the bar by Al Habsi, and fired straight at the ‘keeper from six yards but looked far from his best. Rooney remains without a goal in open play this season.

“That reception was good and it will settle him down,” said Ferguson.

“That has taken a lot of pressure off the boy.

“It was a quiet comeback, he got involved in a few of the bits of interplay but in the main he just needed that 25 minutes or so.

“He will play a full 90 minutes against Rangers on Wednesday and that will help with his fitness.”

Not for the first time this season United emerged with the points, despite a largely disappointing performance, in front of an under-capacity Old Trafford.

Despite now drawing level with Chelsea, Ferguson’s side will surely have to play better than this in the second half of the season if United is to take the Premier League in May.

Love him or loathe him, Rooney is key to that task.

Match Facts
United – 4411 – Van der Sar; Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Rafael Da Silva; Park Ji-Sung (Scholes 56), Carrick (Hernandez 64), Fletcher, Nani; Obertan; Macheda (Rooney 56).

Wigan – 451 – Al Habsi; Gohouri, Alcaraz, S Caldwell, Stam (McArthur 80), Figueroa; Thomas, N’Zogbia (Di Santo 80), Gomez (Moses 58), Diame; Rodallega.

Attendance – 74,181
Man of the Match – Evra

Possession: United 65% – 35% Wigan
Attempts: 17 – 10
On target: 12 – 4
Corners: 11 – 1
Fouls: 11 – 15

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  • han

    nice one ed

  • odbpowell

    Glad Rooney got booed. Deserves it.

    Also, why was he wearing that ridiculous polo-neck thing? First gloves, now this? Once upon a time he was hardcore, a slayer of cold weather fronts. Now he seems to be drowning under the weight of his own clothing, let alone the fans’ expectations. Tuck your shirt in and start earning your money.

    On a happier note: unbeaten and top of the league!

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk ody

    Ed, luck turn his back to Chelsea. Arsenal playing the best football to watch but still “afraid” to be top. Our beloved team, still managed to make us guilty to “waste” 2 hours of our life watching an under par performance. We should not get excited. It won’t last for long (fixtures against Chelsea & Arsenal on the way) with: Rooney out of form,Valencia injured, (still)relying to Giggs & Scholes and Nani playing every other 2 games. The rest of the squad looks so average (unfortunately). Still MU favorites for 3rd or 4th. Unless some miracle happens or SAF decides to bring some reinforcement in Jan (mostly unlikely)

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    agree – that last sentence is bang on the money. considering how light weight we have been, rooney will be massive, when we decide to wake up from our hang over.

  • RedScot

    Good review of the match.
    interesting stat on the attendance!
    I cant understand why when Wigan were down to 9 men for so long United could not capitalize on this and improve the goal difference.
    If there were a greater opportunity for the Black sheep to begin his “journey” for some, back into the fold, it was yesterday.Surely if he is everything we thought he was it dont say much that he cant find the Onion bag against 9 men.We really on Hernandez, I know right now who I would be backing for a “long ” future at Old Trafford.
    Serious investment is needed in several areas not least midfield to stop teams who dont use the width cutting through us like butter through a knife.
    Cheers to the Glazers your good work over the last 5years is begining to bear fruit.
    Its not the players fault we support what we have dont we?
    I lay everything at those American’s door.
    Cmon United lets drive through to the last 16 of the Champions league on Wedensday in Glesga.The non mean city, but highly bigoted.
    Cmon United.
    Believe.

    • GazNo77

      Yes, ‘interesting’ is the right word for the attendance figure. There were so many empty seats yesterday

      • RedScot

        Thats what i thought when i watched on the telly.
        I realise the figures provided are through the club.
        Its less than you would anticipate for obvious reasons, surely they are not fudging the attendance figures now! God only knows what next.

  • http://none ian

    Until Scholes came on the midfield were dreadful once again. Even Fletcher is treading water, or perhaps treacle. Carrick’s confidence is shot & Park was poor.There is no snap, crackle or pop. If we bought one quality midfielder we would be a good team & could challenge in the league & Europe. If we don’t we will be also rans.

    • mongoletsi

      Word.

      Hargreaves is almost back though.

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhahhahahahahahahahah yeah riiiiiight

  • Spike

    What’s all this “first gear” shite that’s getting posted here?Seems to me that Utd are crippled by a weak midfield and a nearly comatose attcking front!

    A defender scores a goal and we are happy to be in front! ffs that’s pityful of a Utd team, it’s the iceing om the cake if a defender scores a goal for us, not good enough! Beckham and Keane must be shaking their heads at the Utd side of late.

    We depend on a P. Scholls to sort the midfield out, fuck me, that is abomanation in the eyes of the Footy God, a man who can not tackle, who has 5!!! yellow cards to his name already, who should be a attacking midfield and not a player Nannying the likes of Carrick and CO.

    We havn’t lost a game up to now, ffs, we should have never drawn so many either, we would be sitting comfy at the top watching Arse and the Chumps trying to catch up to us., are we so complacent? Utd fans should be boiling mad with a 2:0 win against a Wigan 9 man team!
    and fuck all you who say different!

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Spike said:
    What’s all this “first gear” shite that’s getting posted here?Seems to me that Utd are crippled by a weak midfield and a nearly comatose attcking front!

    A defender scores a goal and we are happy to be in front! ffs that’s pityful of a Utd team, it’s the iceing om the cake if a defender scores a goal for us, not good enough! Beckham and Keane must be shaking their heads at the Utd side of late.

    We depend on a P. Scholls to sort the midfield out, fuck me, that is abomanation in the eyes of the Footy God, a man who can not tackle, who has 5!!! yellow cards to his name already, who should be a attacking midfield and not a player Nannying the likes of Carrick and CO.

    We havn’t lost a game up to now, ffs, we should have never drawn so many either, we would be sitting comfy at the top watching Arse and the Chumps trying to catch up to us., are we so complacent? Utd fans should be boiling mad with a 2:0 win against a Wigan 9 man team!
    and fuck all you who say different!

    we haven’t got the players – the investments in Gibshite and Anderson have not paid off. we need replacements, we can’t find them / pay for them. until then if you want to bitch and moan about being joint 1 in the league, then feel free. there are a lot of fans at clubs who wld kill to be in our position esp since we have been so turd

    fuck keane and beckham.

  • Spike

    You missed my point…. we should be high and dry by now, and no players? we have the players but they are fooking complacent and fookin work shy, Obertan and Evra are doing what they do best, attacking on the wings, but where is the danger man in front who can pull goals out of thin air like RvN did or Gomez at Bayern ( at the moment) or or or…it aint good enough what Utd is showing at the moment, when the big boys in Europe come knocking, Utd will be hiding under the sink.
    2:0 against a Wigan 9 man team…makes me cringe with embarresment

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Spike said:
    You missed my point…. we should be high and dry by now, and no players? we have the players but they are fooking complacent and fookin work shy, Obertan and Evra are doing what they do best, attacking on the wings, but where is the danger man in front who can pull goals out of thin air like RvN did or Gomez at Bayern ( at the moment) or or or…it aint good enough what Utd is showing at the moment, when the big boys in Europe come knocking, Utd will be hiding under the sink.
    2:0 against a Wigan 9 man team…makes me cringe with embarresment

    that’s my point about the players; they are average – but average in this year’s league is seemingly OK

    i’m clinging to the hope that it can’t get any worse – so has to get better …

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    danniitronix said:
    that’s my point about the players; they are average – but average in this year’s league is seemingly OK

    i’m clinging to the hope that it can’t get any worse – so has to get better …

    The problem is, as long as we’re competetive, with whatever standard the league is… Ferguson will be satisfied with what he’s got.

    We need to be put in our place for Ferguson to see how ordinary this squad is.

    Maybe a heavy thrashing in the champs league, will open his eyes.

  • kramer

    i cringe at the thought of us playing barca or real madrid. this team would get fucked inside out.

  • Spike

    Danni
    I don’t give a flying rats arse about the title or any cup, I want to see Utd attackin and ALL Utd players working their nuts off to get a result, as Alf’s said, maybe we need a walloping to make SAF see the state this team is in…
    I’d be fired if I came with a shite performance at work, these sods just don’t seem to give shit if their work is shoddy.. I want a SAF of old who would throw tantrums and put “stars” on the bench for a week or two.

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    The problem is, as long as we’re competetive, with whatever standard the league is… Ferguson will be satisfied with what he’s got.

    We need to be put in our place for Ferguson to see how ordinary this squad is.

    Maybe a heavy thrashing in the champs league, will open his eyes.

    also true, historically we haev always bounced back when we get a true slapping down.

    am with you 100% on this, if United loose I want them spanked so Fergus realises the long term view of this. playing the indian rope trick can last only so long.

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Spike said:
    Danni
    I don’t give a flying rats arse about the title or any cup, I want to see Utd attackin and ALL Utd players working their nuts off to get a result, as Alf’s said, maybe we need a walloping to make SAF see the state this team is in…
    I’d be fired if I came with a shite performance at work, these sods just don’t seem to give shit if their work is shoddy.. I want a SAF of old who would throw tantrums and put “stars” on the bench for a week or two.

    days of a side attacking the fuck all the time every game are gone forever bro – but you are spot on about work ethic. you talk about cash but it’s basic pride in my view, no excuse not to put a shift in.

  • sidney

    Spike said:
    Danni
    I don’t give a flying rats arse about the title or any cup, I want to see Utd attackin and ALL Utd players working their nuts off to get a result, as Alf’s said, maybe we need a walloping to make SAF see the state this team is in…
    I’d be fired if I came with a shite performance at work, these sods just don’t seem to give shit if their work is shoddy.. I want a SAF of old who would throw tantrums and put “stars” on the bench for a week or two.

    I agree, sort of. But it’s not a case of application or hard work. That’s the default football fan criticism when their team isn’t playing well. You hear it all the time, especially with England. Whenever they are played off the park by a better team, it’s not because the opposition are a different class, it’s not because the system dunt work, it’s not because the footballers are criminally overrated – it’s because they lack passion FFS. Total bollocks.

    Anyway, I wanna see more attacking football too, but more importantly, I wanna see more creativity. It’s not all about bollock-bursting, hernia-inducing sprinting for 90 minutes or running around like a wild, ferel Argentinian madman to prove to the fans that you’re 100% committed to the club. We’ve never been about that. It’s about ingenuity, guile, craft – that’s what this team lacks.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    were dull as fuck

  • http://none ian

    Creativity, that’s a good word. Think Iniesta. Ignoring Scholes who no longer has the legs, go through the list, out of 10:
    Carrick 3, Fletcher 4, Park 3, Gibson 1, Anderson (so far) 2,Giggs 4, Hargreaves ??? Too generous?
    Surely SAF must see this? We cannot win anything unless we buy a quality midfielder in Jan.

  • RobDiablo

    Unregistered User said:
    Creativity, that’s a good word. Think Iniesta. Ignoring Scholes who no longer has the legs, go through the list, out of 10:
    Carrick 3, Fletcher 4, Park 3, Gibson 1, Anderson (so far) 2,Giggs 4, Hargreaves ??? Too generous?
    Surely SAF must see this? We cannot win anything unless we buy a quality midfielder in Jan.

    Those numbers look pretty good to me (as indicators of what we are getting from these players). I would be tempted to drop Anderson’s score to a ’1′, but then I’d have to drop Gibson’s to a ’0′.

  • Just1n

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    were dull as fuck

    yeah it’s fucking painful to watch most times

  • Ted

    sidney said:
    I agree, sort of. But it’s not a case of application or hard work. That’s the default football fan criticism when their team isn’t playing well. You hear it all the time, especially with England. Whenever they are played off the park by a better team, it’s not because the opposition are a different class, it’s not because our rigid 442 system dunt work, it’s not because our footballers are criminally overrated – it’s because they lack passion FFS. Total bollocks.

    Anyway, I wanna see more attacking football too, but more importantly, I wanna see more creativity. It’s not all about bollock-bursting, hernia-inducing sprinting for 90 minutes or running around like a wild, ferel Argentinian madman to prove to the fans that you’re 100% committed to the club. We’ve never been about that. It’s about ingenuity, guile, craft – that’s what this team lacks.

    =======================================================================================

    You are right to a point Sid. But i reckon what Spike might be getting at is that when the likes of Carrick and Park and Fletcher are clearly not performing….(not that Carrick and Park can play anyway) they could at least look enthusiastic. Carrick continually looks like a shy kid who’s frightened his dad will shout at him if he gives the ball away, and Park is saving the club a fortune on lawn mower petrol cozz all he does is eat grass all fuckin game. By all means, criticise the lack of guile, vision, craft, technique, its what we all want. Your just not going to get that from sub standard players like the afore mentioned. It needs dealing with pronto. And Carrick should be without doubt the first casualty cozz he offers absolutely fuck all to the cause, and never has. He is one of our worst buys…..FACT.

  • GeorgiaJon

    I just CANNOT stop thinking “What IF we bought Mesut Ozil in the summer….”
    I mean, come on, he was only a few million quid more than Bebe…

    On another note, who saw Bebe’s screamer of a second goal in the reserve match?

  • bman

    They were very good against City, especially Carrick, who was unbelievable that day. So he can do it, and did perform well for us in his first few seasons. I think it’s a psychological problem with him maybe.

  • kramer

    i generally agree that this team, especially the midfield, is not good enough and there’s a total lack of creativity, but one factor that is being neglected is fergie’s insistence on playing a different 11 every fucking game. it does my head in. but, given the squad size, i guess it was always inevitable.
    its a strange situation compared to the one 2 seasons ago. back then, we couldn’t pick between tevez and berba. now we have to rotate obertan, macheda, bebe etc. to ensure everyone gets enough game time.
    and anderson, who was supposed to be one of the brightest talents in the game, looks out of sorts and can’t get a fucking game.

    what the fuck are we gonna do when welbeck, cleverley and diouf come back? we’re way too overstocked.

    ffs i hate fergie sometimes.

    LKHF

  • kramer

    jesus, i forgot we still have michael fucking owen. i hope the cunt never plays for us again.

  • ronnie

    We are definitely going to topple Chelsea this time and grab the Top spot in the League , Bet on That !!

  • Spike

    GeorgiaJon said:
    I just CANNOT stop thinking “What IF we bought Mesut Ozil in the summer….”
    I mean, come on, he was only a few million quid more than Bebe…

    On another note, who saw Bebe’s screamer of a second goal in the reserve match?

    Another miss for SAF, but P’d prefer Schweinsteiger above the Turk….pity that Bayern’s Chairmann Ruminnigge has came out and told the Press that he (Schweine) will fulfill his contract till the sommer of 2012