Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata scored twice to ensure Ryan Giggs’ spell as interim Manchester United manager began with a comfortable 4-0 victory against a mediocre Norwich side in the Premier League on Saturday.
It was an upbeat end to a turbulent week at Old Trafford that saw David Moyes dismissed just 10 months after succeeding Alex Ferguson, paying the price for taking the club from champions to seventh place.
However uplifting this rout was for disgruntled fans, it came against a relegation-threatened team with the worst away record in the league. And United did also score four goals in winning two of Moyes’ last three domestic fixtures.
“Giggs has got all the credentials to be the next manager but that’s down to the board,” Rooney said.
The 40-year-old Giggs has grown up at Old Trafford, from coming as a supporter, rising through the youth team, becoming the club’s most decorated player, and now occupying the manager’s seat in the dugout
“It’s the rock, which my life has been built upon,” Giggs said in the match-day program of the club. Having joked on Friday he would award himself a new five-year playing contract, Giggs denied himself a 963rd United appearance.
Watching from the sidelines in a club suit, Giggs ensured the team provided the cathartic experience desired by all at Old Trafford nearing the end of this season of unparalleled inferiority and disorder at United in the Premier League era.
Although there was never a mutinous atmosphere even in the lowest points of Moyes’ ill-fated reign, there has not been this much joy inside the ground for some time, supporters cheering loudly as Giggs emerged from the tunnel before kickoff. Fans inside the Theatre of Dreams will start dreaming again of a brighter future.
As if to emphasise the extent of the club moving on after Moyes, it came with Saturday’s start. Marouane Fellaini, the 27.5 million-pound midfield signing which defined Moyes’ reign, didn’t even make the bench and Mata, the club’s record 37.1 million-pound signing in January, was dropped from the starting line-up. Talented teenager Adnan Januzaj, who broke into the first team under Moyes, wasn’t in the match-day squad.
The pre-match message by Giggs to the team was: entertain, attack, play with a tempo. But it was listless for much of the first half against a well-drilled Norwich side. It took more than 10 minutes for United striker Danny Welbeck to test goalkeeper John Ruddy.
“Giggs will tear us apart,” the fans chanted.
While Norwich lacked adventure going forward, United were thwarted again by goalkeeper John Ruddy, who blocked Antonio Valencia’s powerful strike. The breakthrough came after referee Lee Probert decided that Steven Whittaker’s contact before Welbeck fell merited a penalty.
Rooney scored from the penalty spot in continued…