Trending now:   Manchester United  •  Liverpool  •  Arsenal  •  Chelsea  •  Barcelona  •  Inter Milan  •  Real Madrid  •  Manchester City  •  Borussia Dortmund  •  Crystal Palace

Wigan Athletic

Teams /  England  / Wigan Athletic 
Wigan Athletic have 99 fans
 
 
 
 
 
Manchester United beat nine-man Wigan to move level with Chelsea
Tim Rich at Old Trafford - 6 years ago

It is hard to imagine how the afternoon could have been made any easier for Wayne Rooney. His comeback was against Wigan, who, over the years, have acted as Manchester United's sacrificial lambs, with little jars of mint sauce tied around their necks.

They had never earned so much a point against United and, in his 11 previous games against them, Rooney had found the net nine times. Also, for most of his 34 minutes on the pitch, Wigan had nine men.

Rooney came on as a sub to a level of applause that was acceptable but no more; and the first song he heard was for the man who was brought on with him ? Paul Scholes, who is as unlikely to be photographed dining on chicken nuggets and champagne in Dubai as he is to issue a statement criticising his club's ambition. Old Trafford was quite prepared to remove the black mark against Rooney's name, but they wanted the erasure to show.

The real ovation, however, was reserved for news of Chelsea's defeat by Birmingham. Without United finding any real rhythm this season, only goal difference now separates them from Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson, typically, thought his men should have used that half an hour when they had two more men to erode the champions' remaining advantage.

"It will settle him down and remind him he is the right club," his manager said of Rooney's return. "It was a quiet comeback. He will start against Rangers in the Champions League. That will be the perfect game for him."

In one sense, this was the right match for Rooney to return. Before kick-off, the Tannoys announced that it was five years since the death of George Best and that members of his family had gathered here to mark the occasion.

In his biography of Sir Matt Busby, A Strange Kind of Glory, Eamon Dunphy, emphasised the difference between George and Georgie Best, the footballer and the stuff of celebrity. You could say the same of his natural successor; there is Wayne Rooney and there is Wazza.

Of all the comments directed at Rooney, Ferguson's statement delivered aptly from the absolutist state that is Qatar ? that there is nobody at Manchester United more important than the manager ? should have sunk in the deepest. Dimitar Berbatov, dropped from the even bench after his insipid display against Aston Villa, might have reflected upon it, too.

Had he been a cricketer, you would have said Rooney played himself in. The passes were usually short rather than flamboyant. Of his two chances, one was a header from a deep, superbly-judged cross from Rafael da Silva that was tipped over the bar; a shot from the edge of the six-yard area finished comfortably in Ali al-Habsi's arms.

Javier Hernández, who has taken up the slack left by Rooney's injury and rehabilitation, did not have the same rust encrusting his boots. His seventh goal of the season was created by the same sort of deep cross from Da Silva that Rooney nodded over. The young Mexican's header did not miss.

With eight outfield players left and a quarter of an hour remaining, those few who had travelled from Wigan, which technically if not spiritually is part of Greater Manchester, might have wondered "How many?" They would have been relieved by the answer.

The Wigan manager, Roberto Martínez, would not comment on the dismissals of Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega. Alcaraz was shown a second yellow for a late scythe at Darren Fletcher while the Colombian was given a red card for a studs-up tackle on Da Silva, which will earn him a three-match ban Wigan can ill afford.

Ferguson felt the visitors had been aggressive from the start. "Wigan tested the referee throughout, no doubt about that. But we had a lot of the ball without doing anything with it. We seem to be playing our best football in the final 20 minutes. We need more quickness in our play, especially in the first half. We could have had five or six easily, but had you said: 'Would you take being joint top with Chelsea?' I would have said yes."

Manchester United, the team that traditionally flourishes when the year turns, have not lost their sense of timing and emphasised it when, in first-half stoppage time, Park Ji-Sung swung over a wonderful cross, and Patrice Evra met it to head in his first goal in three and a half years.

Evra joked that he would celebrate by buying Park a Christmas present. He suggested a car, demonstrating it is not just Rooney who lives in a Marie Antoinette world.

THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICTTONY KAYE. Observer reader A dull game and a poor performance. The first half was a bit tepid and the only good things in it were the Evra goal and the half-time whistle, but everything else went for us today with the Arsenal and Chelsea results. It was the old cliche of a game of two halves, with a lot in the second half, Rooney coming on and the two sendings-off. It was a good goal by Chicharito, who looks like the one shining beacon for the future and should have played from the start. Credit to Wigan, though: they gave it a go. Martínez is a competent manager and they didn't disgrace themselves.

The fan's player ratings Van der Sar 7; R Da Silva 6, Ferdinand 6, Vidic 7, Evra 8; Nani 7, Carrick 6 (Hernández 64 8), Fletcher 7, Park 5 (Scholes 56 7); Obertan 8; Macheda 5 (Rooney 56 7)

MARK ASHURST, Observer reader We came and we had a bit of a go. It's always tricky at Old Trafford with 11 men let alone nine. The sendings-off were stupid. The first one, if it was the other way around, it would have been a booking but the second sending-off was a leg-breaker, a disgrace. Apart from that I can't complain about the performance. I would have taken losing 2-0 beforehand. Steven Caldwell, at centre-half, was outstanding, but we've got bigger fish to fry with West Ham and then Stoke: we've got to avoid defeat at Upton Park and beat Stoke at home. A point a game is round about enough. We'll be all right.

The fan's player ratings Habsi 6; Gohouri 6, S Caldwell 9, Alcaraz 5, Figueroa 6; Stam 5 (McArthur 80 n/a), Thomas 7, Diamé 7; N'Zogbia 8 (Di Santo 80 6), Gómez 5 (Moses 58 5); Rodallega 3

To take part in the Fans' Verdict, email sport@observer.co.uk

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts
Comments
Page 1 of 1
'' Wigan, who, over the years, have acted as Manchester United's sacrificial lambs, with little jars of mint sauce tied around their neck ''


lmao
ManU really is hanging by a thread this season. It is bound to get cut sooner or later and they will fall, and fall fast
come and get it ! u will have a test of man united blood !

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Newspapers
 
Blogs
 
Podcasts
 
Paul Mariner and Ross Dyer make their predictions for which teams will grab the top four spots in the Premier League. Ravel Morrison has until the end of next week to earn the chance to face former c ...
Chesterfield are considering Tony Mowbray, Gary Caldwell and a third candidate to be their new manager.
Wigan Athletic midfielder Sam Morsy sign a one-year contract extension with the Championship side until 2019.
The pressure on Alex Neil grows, Newcastle go top as Brighton slip up, Callum Connolly makes an instant impact and League One gets turned upside down Related: Football clubs suffering as owners exper ...
Burton Albion Wigan Athletic 0 2 FT Game Details L ...
Burton Albion Wigan Athletic 3:00 PM UTC Game Details  ...
Preview followed by live coverage of Saturday's Championship game between Burton Albion and Wigan Athletic.
• Winners of Plymouth v Liverpool replay will host Wolves • Non-league Sutton and Lincoln both at home if they win replays The two remaining non-league sides in the FA Cup will both be at home in  ...
League One side Charlton Athletic sign Wigan winger Nathan Byrne on loan until the end of the season.
The Cherries, Potters and Baggies suffered misery at the expense of lower-tier sides, while there was plenty of room at Hull on third round day
Wigan Athletic Nottingham Forest 2 0 FT Game Details  ...
Scunthorpe United sign Wigan striker Craig Davies on a deal until the end of the 2016-17 season.
• Midfielder linked up with former coach Warren Joyce at Championship club• ‘I know how much of a talent he is from my days at Manchester United’The former Manchester United and West Ham midfi ...
Ravel Morrison has not played for Lazio this season. Former Manchester United and West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison is training with Wigan ahead of a possible move to the Championship club, Latics bo ...
Wigan manager Warren Joyce hopes midfielder Ravel Morrison can rediscover the 'X factor' to help the Latics' Championship relegation fight.
Preview followed by live coverage of Saturday's FA Cup game between Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest.
Wigan Athletic Nottingham Forest 3:00 PM UTC Game Details  ...
Ravel Morrison has struggled to make an impact at Lazio. Former Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison is training with Wigan Athletic as he waits to find himself a new club, sources close to the ...
Wigan Athletic Huddersfield Town 0 1 FT Game Details  ...
Preview followed by live coverage of Monday's Championship game between Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town.
   
Kick4Life - changing lives through football