Manchester United 5-0 Wigan Athletic
Wayne Rooney delivered another masterclass as Manchester United
closed 2009 with a 5-0 thumping of Wigan at Old Trafford on
Sir Alex Ferguson has argued for years that if his side are
within touching distance of top spot on New Year’s Day they will
take some stopping.
And not only are they only two points adrift of Chelsea, they
have almost achieved parity in the goal difference column too after
another five-goal mauling of the hapless Latics, who seem ill
equipped to survive a relegation scrap.
Former Wigan star Antonio Valencia had a productive night,
claiming three assists and scoring the final Premier League goal of
2009 against his old club.
But Rooney was the main man, opening United’s account with
his 15th goal of the season and getting himself right to the heart
of a performance Wigan could not have complained about if it had
brought the hosts double figures.
Long before they turned trophy collection into an art form,
one of the things United liked most was to face lower rated
opponents prepared to take them on at football.
They would leave Old Trafford with the plaudits of Sir Alex
Ferguson ringing in their ears, as well as the cheers of home
supporters ecstatic at witnessing a one-sided goal fest.
Clearly, Roberto Martinez has not been doing his homework.
Hammered by five goals on home soil in August, Martinez made
the short journey across Greater Manchester for the return,
committed to the same open style, which could quite easily get
The wonder was it took United almost half an hour to open
A flurry just beforehand had involved Chris Kirkland turning
a Rooney blockbuster wide and Paul Scharner booting a Nemanja Vidic
effort of the line.
Following that, Rooney’s audacious shot from the most acute
angle imaginable bounced back to Kirkland off the far post, the
Wigan keeper having been completely bamboozled by the initial
Finally, Dimitar Berbatov, who had started the bombardment by
racing onto Rooney’s through ball and getting chopped down in the
box by Titus Bramble without winning a penalty, fluffed a chip when
he was clean through.
At that stage, there must have been a temptation for Wigan to
think they would survive. How foolish that would have been.
It will not cross Ferguson’s attention that much but an
entire nation of football watchers is following his main man at the
moment, crossing their fingers he can deliver World Cup glory to
Undoubtedly he is having his best season and it was the
former Everton striker who stole in at the near post to meet Rafael
Da Silva’s cross and steer it past Kirkland to break the deadlock.
Three minutes later Michael Carrick swept home the second
after Valencia had shown enough vision to cut a pass back into his
path rather than drill a cross into crowded penalty area.
On nights like these, the former Wigan man is a powerful
force. And with Rafael charging forward on the overlap, the Latics
could not resist.
Rafael’s only previous goal came in a disappointing defeat at
Arsenal last year. This time, after collecting Darren Fletcher’s
pass and showing nimble feet to create space for himself on the
edge of the area before drilling past Kirkland, he had more of a
reason to celebrate with twin Fabio, who pumped the air with joy
from the bench, although he was ultimately to share a pitch with
his brother for the first time in a league game.
A change of keeper at the break as Mike Pollitt replaced the
luckless Kirkland, failed to bring a change of fortune for the
Valencia skipped past Maynor Figueroa as if he was not there,
then crossed into the space Hendry Thomas was supposed to be
filling before he fell over. Berbatov controlled instantly and
stabbed his shot into the far corner.
Memories of that nine-goal humiliation at Tottenham were
coming back to haunt Martinez and his men.
If Rooney had managed to find the net when he got on the end
of Berbatov’s chip instead of thundering a header against the bar,
a repeat may have been on the cards.
Instead, United were forced to wait until the 76th minute,
after Ferguson had made a triple substitution, for Rooney to drive
into the heart of Wigan’s defences before sending Valencia through
superbly to chip home a fifth.