Wayne Rooney scored his second consecutive hat-trick as a slick United thrashed Bolton to go back to the top
Preamble Evening. If Stoke on a wet, windy night is seen as the acid test of a foreign footballer's capacity to like it up him, then Bolton isn't far behind – the Jamie MacDonald to Stoke's Malcolm Tucker (or should that be the other way round?). Owen Coyle, possibly the next great British manager, has brought Bolton's football into the 21st century, but he has also been smart enough to retain the fibrousness that has made Bolton such awkward opponents in the past decade. As such, this will be a cracking test for Manchester United's infectious, intrepid young side. Not just David de Gea – who plays – but also the phalanx of young Englishmen who have been so impressive in the early weeks of the season. You don't have to be a foreigner to get a culture shock in Bolton.
Team news Both sides make two changes from their last game. Bolton bring in Dedryck Boyata and Mark Davies for Gretar Steinsson and Fabrice Muamba. For United, Rio Ferdinand and Javier Hernandez replace Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck. That means Phil Jones will move to right back.
Bolton (4-4-2) Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Eagles, Mark Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov; Klasnic, Kevin Davies.
Subs: Bogdan, Muamba, Tuncay, Pratley, Ngog, Kakuta, Wheater.
Man Utd (4-4-2) De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Cleverley, Anderson, Young; Rooney, Hernandez.
Subs: Berbatov, Giggs, Smalling, Park, Carrick, Fabio, Lindegaard.
"'Owen Coyle, possibly the next great British manager'?" quotes Duncan McDonnell. "He played for Ireland Rob." And what a lovely Irish accent this Paisley-born manager has.
"Being born in a stable doesn't make you a horse (as the Duke of Wellington noted when explaining why he – unlike Owen Coyle – chose to be British, not Irish)..." continues Duncan McDonnell. This could go on, and what fun that would be for our readers.
Question of the day What's going on with Gary Barlow's hardass act? From the man who wrote Back For Good, it's more than a little unnerving.
1 min There's a lively old atmosphere at Burnden Park. The camera hovers on David de Gea, inevitably. This will be an interesting 90 minutes for him, one way or another. United kick off from right to left. They are in red; Bolton are in white.
2 min "Rob, could you please explain what you mean by your remark 'You don't have to be a foreigner to get a culture shock in Bolton," says Eric Hyland. I mean that the fibrous element of Bolton's play is a shock to those who are unfamiliar with it – whether that person is David de Gea, Chris Smalling or Tom Cleverley. Is that okay?
4 min It's been all United so far, although everything has been in front of Bolton. Kevin Davies takes Tom Cleverley from behind, which has both managers on their feet complaining.
GOAL! Bolton 0-1 Manchester United (Hernandez 5) A goal of devastating simplicity. Nani runs at Robinson down the right and hammers a low, sidefooted cross towards the near post; Hernandez runs Cahill one way and then the other before nipping in front of Jaaskelainen to poke the ball into the net. That was a fine goal, the result of Hernandez's peerless movement.
6 min Cleverley has to go off because of that foul from Davies. Michael Carrick will replace him.
7 min Rooney clears off the line from Eagles. In open play as well. A cross from the left by Petrov was kept alive by the head of Davies. Then a Bolton player, Klasnic I think, had a header blocked, and finally Eagles' sidefoot volley was booted away by Rooney, who had sensed danger and drifted back. Shades of Eric Cantona against Chelsea in 1996. Ah, in fact it was Ferdinand who cleared it, although Rooney was right alongside him.
8 min Carrick has come on for Cleverley. That's a bad blow for United, and sadly predictable given the way Kevin Davies usually plays against them.
11 min Bolton's physicality is troubling United at the moment, and Klasnic wins their first corner. It's swung in by Petrov and headed clear.
12 min This is a cracking game. From that corner, United break through Nani, and eventually Cahill has to head Hernandez's chipped cross behind for a corner. It comes to nothing.
13 min Kevin Davies is deservedly booked for another unpleasant foul, this time on Evra. Sir Alex Ferguson is hacked off, and rightly so. Davies has made a show of himself these first 13 minutes.
15 min "I believe Owen Coyle was Irish for all of seven minutes replacing that other well known Irishman Tommy Coyne," says David Walker. "Neither was good enough for Scotland in those days. How times change..."
17 min "Evening Rob," says Mark Gillies. "I'm glad Fergie decided to stick with De Gea – imagine what it would have done to his confidence if he'd been dropped. Have Bolton started lumping it in yet?" Agreed. He hasn't had much to do yet actually. The back four have protected him very well.
19 min Klasnic spins 25 yards from goal and hits a vicious shot that De Gea does well to save, flying to his right.
20 min Mark Davies is booked for a cynical foul on Nani, who was breaking dangerously.
GOAL! Bolton 0-2 Manchester United (Rooney 20) Another fine goal for United. Phil Jones takes a short throw to Anderson, gets the ball back and then swerves a wonderful low cross into the space between the goalkeeper and defenders. Rooney gets in front of Knight to stud it in from six yards.
22 min How exciting are this United side? It would be Fergie's crowning achievement if he were to somehow topple Barcelona with a team of kids.
GOAL! Bolton 0-3 Man Utd (Rooney 25) Phil Jones is going to be a superstar. He has just created the third goal with a wonderful solo run from the back. Eventually his shot was well saved by the legs of Jaaskelainen, but Rooney swept the rebound into the net.
27 min Hernandez has a goal disallowed for offside. It was almost a replica of his first goal, darting ahead of the keeper at the near post onto Nani's low cross, but this time he was just ahead of the lads defender.
30 min "Can we please get away from these misconceptions about bolton being a 'physical side?'" says Rob Morse. "Kevin Davies aside, Owen Coyle has had them playing some nice passing football for a few seasons now. If we're going to spout cliches let's at least have them be accurate." Yes, because a) playing nice passing football and being physical are mutually exclusive, b) I didn't cover this in the preamble and c) it's not possible for two grown men to have a different opinion. I assume you're a grown man.
31 min Kevin Davies fresh airs an attempted volley from Petrov's cross. It came to him at groin height, so he needed to adjust his body like a piece of Play-Doh; he couldn't.
32 min Bolton actually played pretty well at 1-0, both with and without the ball, but those two quick goals have winded them badly.
33 min Paul Robinson boots Jones up in the air, a dismal tackle for which he should probably have been booked.
34 min "So Phil Jones (started typing this before #3!) is getting the chance to show what a superb footballer he is as well as a brilliant defender," says Adam Hirst. "100+ caps for England, barring injury. A Rolls-Royce of a footballer, he could be the closest that an English defender can get to someone like Lilian Thuram. I was thinking of Marcel Desailly last week... this week it is Thuram." Normally a man would hoot his little head off at such sacrilege, but Jones's potential is frightening.
35 min "Does swatting aside Bolton really tell us much about Phil Jones or this new Manchester United side?" says Gary Naylor. "I mean. one manager has Berbatov on the bench, the other has Ngog. Too much football is like watching Fifth Years beat up Second Years in the playground while their mates look on, gloating." I agree completely about the wider point - football is an uncompetitive shemozzle - but of course it tells us something about the quality of a side able to do this to an opponent as good as Bolton.
37 min I don't think De Gea has touched the ball for 15 minutes.
38 min Bolton get their first free kick of the match, which prompts sarcastic cheers and a wave of the finger from Owen Coyle.
39 min Hernandez leaps above Robinson but can't control his header from Young's deep, inswinging cross. United haven't thrashed Bolton here. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Bolton have had more of the possession. But United have been ruthlessly efficient.
41 min "Gary Barlow?! Bah humbug!" says Ryan Dunne. "Like all right-thinking people, I'm boycotting X-Factor because it lacks the fabulous, secular BVM that is Ms Cheryl Cole, Emeritus Queen of the WAGs and singer of much catchier pop songs than anything Take That managed (solo Robbie is still superb of course. If Joy of Six ever did the best Football Related Album Cover Art, then this ought to feature.)
43 min Nani goes down after a clash of heads with his own teammate Jones. He looks pretty dazed as he receives treatment.
44 min "I'm surprised that after a week of Davies giving interviews effectively saying he's going to kick United out of the game, and Cleverley being asked if he can handle it, it takes six minutes for him to kick him off the pitch and he doesn't even get booked for it?" says Gwyn Topham. "Have the FA decided it's OK to foul when completely premeditated?"
45 min Nani is booed for the crime of experiencing possible concussion. There will be four minutes of added time. United are playing keep-ball.
45+2 min Nani comes inside Robinson too easily but then drags a left-footed shot into the side netting at the near post. He should probably have done better, especially as there were a few United players waiting around the six-yard line.
Half time: Bolton 0-3 Manchester United United are cruising. See you in 10 minutes.
46 min Bolton kick off the second half. Both ESPN pundits, Robbie Savage and Craig Burley, think Kevin Davies should have been sent off in the first half.
48 min Klasnic forces a decent save from De Gea, who tumbles to his left to claim a bobbling 20-yard shot.
49 min De Gea makes a comfortable save from Kevin Davies's header. On the bench, Tom Cleverley had a huge protective boot around his right foot and a pair of crutches by his side. Well done Kevin.
51 min Nani's free kick from the left is whipped towards the near post and punched away unconvincingly by Jaaskelainen.
52 min "I'm too butch to watch it myself, but isn't Robbie Savage currently on Strictly Come Dancing as well as ESPN?" says Ryan Dunne. "Is he planning a Simon Cowell-esque takeover of the TV channels? God help us all. Mind you, might be fun to watch him present Newsnight." The thought of Robbie Savage covering for Jeremy Kyle has a certain deviant fascination.
55 min Young wins a free kick wide on the right. Anderson decides to go for goal with a booming effort towards the far top corner. It would have gone in, but Jaaskelainen leapt to flap it behind with both hands. Before the corner is taken, Ashley Young hands an object to the referee Andre Marriner, presumably thrown by someone in the crowd.
57 min Knight clears off the line from Hernandez. It was the result of a superb long kick from De Gea towards Nani. Jaaskelainen had to come out of his box to clear, chesting the ball away from Nani. In doing so he gave to Hernandez, who moved round Jaaskelainen and then shot left footed. It was blocked by Knight.
GOAL! Bolton 0-4 Manchester United (Hernandez 58) The resulting corner leads to the fourth goal. Nani slithered infield and should have had a penalty when he was fouled by Boyata, but it didn't matter: seconds later Carrick's deflected shot came to Hernandez, who clipped in his second from six yards.
60 min Nigel Reo Coker hits the bar with a violent effort from the right side of the box. He seemed to be going nowhere when suddenly he got his foot under the ball and welted it towards goal. De Gea couldn't get to it and it rammed right off the face of the bar.
61 min United make their final substitutions: Ryan Giggs and Chris Smalling replace Ashley Young and Jonny Evans, who is limping quite badly. Bolton also bring on Darren Pratley for Chris Eagles.
63 min If the score stays like this it will be United's fourth 4-0 win at Bolton in the last decade, which is slightly odd because it's a ground on which they have often had a really hard time.
64 min De Gea makes a rudimentary save from the substitute Pratley.
65 min Kevin Davies is brought off before he can get himself sent off. David Ngog replaces him.
66 min Is this United's most impressive start to a season under Sir Alex Ferguson? You would think so. It's probably the club's best start since the infamous 1985-86 campaign.
67 min Chris Waddle is cooing about Phil Jones, who has just gone on another majestic gallop from the back.
GOAL! Bolton 0-5 Manchester United (Rooney 67) Wayne Rooney gets his second consecutive hat-trick for Manchester United. That was a fine goal. Giggs drilled a superb crossfield pass to Nani, who moved to the edge of the area and then played the ball back to Rooney. He was 20 yards from goal, and whipped his foot around the ball to send it spinning into the far corner at pace. Jaaskelainen didn't move. That was a seriously good finish from a player who is right on top of his game.
69 min Hernandez almost makes it a pair of hat-tricks. A devastating move ends with Rooney running clear down the left, and his curved cross just evades Hernandez, who, like Davies in the first half, couldn't quite Play-Doh his body as he needed to.
71 min United have scored 18 goals in their first four games. The long, long winter of 1997-98 tells United fans that there will be harder days ahead, but at the moment they look awesome.
72 min That 1997-98 season is an interesting precedent. A young team (Keane had a long-term injury after his first brush with Alf Inge Haaland) scored millions of goals from October to December, 33 in eight games I think, but they ended up winning nothing and missed Keane terribly when things started to go wrong. United will need more experience at some stage this season. For the time being, however, they are having the time of their life.
74 min "I'm living it up with my fourth back-to-back episode of Murder, She Wrote," says Rachel Clifton. "And reading your MBM. Oh yes, living in it up in London on a Saturday night...." An orderly one, gentlemen. An orderly one.
75 min Tuncay, who scored a hat-trick against United in Europe seven years ago, replaces Ivan Klasnic.
76 min An excellent cross from Martin Petrov, Bolton's best player by a distance, is headed over by Tuncay.
78 min Evra is in a lot of pain after a tackle from Pratley. He's beating the ground with his hand. I think it was just an accidental tangle of legs, but I'd want to see another replay to be sure. Yeah, Pratley did nothing wrong there. Evra limps off for treatment; United have used all their subs.
79 min "I can't believe how easy United and City are having it so far this season," says John Reid. "Perhaps it will inspire Manchester icon Morrissey to write a cheerful ditty about it. He could get his mate Joey Barton to help him." What's really interesting is that United are ostensibly weaker than last season, significantly so. But with kids anything is possible. As Sir Matt Busby said, if you don't put them in, you don't know what you've got. It has added a fascinating element to the battle of Manchester. I still think there will be a time when this young side struggles badly. All logic points to that. How they cope with their dodgy spell might decide the title race.
81 min Evra is back on the field.
82 min "Stop being so hard on Kevin Davies," says Simon Cherry. "He's just a throwback to an earlier, tougher era - about 2 million years BC. Mind you, I once watched Derek Dougan and Jim Holton go at it at Old Trafford. The ball made occasional fleeting and probably unwelcome appearances in a scrap that was only ended when Holton was invited to leave the field early. I think either of them would have chewed up Kevin as a little pre-match amuse bouche."
83 min De Gea makes another decent but ultimately routine sprawling save from Tuncay's 20-yard strike.
84 min "Cheer up Rachel Clifton!" says Ryan Dunne. "Surely, as Rob could confirm, the guy to girl MBM-contributor ratio rivals that of a Sci-Fi Convention, Games Workshop or Vatican Council? ;) Although frankly Jessica Fletcher is, relative to real masters like Columbo, Batman, Scooby Doo and Sherlock Holmes, not much of a detective."
86 min Hernandez declines a glorious chance to get his hat-trick. Nani played a delicious short pass down the side of the defence to Hernandez, who was near the left corner of the six-yard box. He could and probably should have gone for goal; instead he tried to square it to Anderson and overhit the pass.
87 min "A smiley face in an MBM?" says Graeme Neill. "A new low Rob, a new low..." Don't shoot the cut-and-paster lol.
90 min Three minutes of added time.
Full time: Bolton 0-5 Manchester United Manchester United go back to the top of the table after a supreme performance. Three for Rooney, two for Hernandez, and 18 in four games for United. Night.