A youthful Manchester United defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford to provide compelling evidence that the future looks bright at Old Trafford.
While many of their rivals continue to spend big in pursuit of silverware, United’s investment in youth is yet again reaping its rewards as this was the second youngest-ever side they had fielded in a Premier League match.
Home-produced Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley were two of the architects of the triumph in Reds’ opening home game of the season.
Welbeck, selected ahead of Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, scored United’s opener and provided an assist for a second from Anderson. Cleverley, meanwhile, delivered the cross for Welbeck’s goal.
The performances of both Welbeck and Cleverley also proved the widom of United’s decision to sent out the pair on season-long loans in 2010/11 to Sunderland and Wigan Athletic respectively.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who described United’s second half as “absolutely fantastic,” lavished praise on the youngsters.
He said: “We still believe in young players and this club is about them. This group has got fantastic ability and we always have the confidence to play good players.
“Danny has always been a great prospect, but he had a knee problem when he was growing up and it was a case of waiting for him.
“He went to Sunderland and became a man, yet he is only 20 years of age and he has a great future ahead of him.”
Ferguson admitted the emergence of Welbeck since his return from the North East has presented him with a problem.
He continued: “We also have Berbatov, Owen and Chicharito who all offer us different qualities.
“The horrible part is that Chicharito is back and what do we do? It is a big problem.”
United also made it two wins out of two and remain only one of three clubs still with a 100-per-cent record as they lie second behind City by virtue of one goal while Wolves also have a maximum six-point haul.
In the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, United relied heavily on youth as new-boy Phil Jones was included in a back line which also contained Chris Smalling.
Fledglings Cleverley and Welbeck were also in the starting line up as Ferguson again clearly had one eye on the future.
However, there was plenty of ammunition and artillery on the bench in the form of Hernandez, Berbatov. Ji-Sung Park, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick who were on the bench as back up.
There was a sea of red before kick off with every United supporter given a scarf to commemorate their record-breaking 19th league title triumph.
The last time United did something similar was to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster and they lost that night to neighbours City. Surely that unlucky omen would not strike again.
Ashley Young forced the first save of the night as his long-range drive, which was destined for the bottom corner, was well turned away by new Spurs keeper Brad Friedel who was preferred to Heurelho Gomes between the posts.
It developed into a fascinating open game, though there were few clear-cut openings from either side as both defences were on top.
Spurs attempted to expose any chinks in the armour of new Reds keeper David de Gea who has made a shaky start to his career at Old Trafford. Rafael van der Vaart, in particular, led the probing with a couple of long-range shots.
Ashley Young came as close as anybody to making the breakthrough as his header looped agonisingly wide across the face of goal.
United started to crank up the tempo after the restart as Friedel was called into action to deny Young, Anderson and Rooney in quick succession.
And it was only a matter of time before United broke the stalemate as was proved when Welbeck opened the scoring just after the hour mark.
It was a case of the young guns combining as Cleverley’s probing cross was met by Welbeck on the six-yard line as he glanced home a perfect headed goal.
Once ahead, United’s confidence soared as they went in search of a second goal to kill off Spurs who had more than matched their opponents.
Rooney curled a free kick over the defensive wall only for Friedel to fling himself full length to his right to make an amazing save.
The second goal came in the 76th minute when Welbeck and Anderson played a delightful interchange of passes. Welbeck burst clear, but was superbly tackled by Michael Dawson. The ball broke loose into the path of Anderson, following up, to sweep home from 12 yards.
United were home and dry, though there was one let off when de Gea flapped at a cross and the ball broke to Jermain Defoe whose angled shot from six yards struck an upright.
The Spanish keeper also looked jittery when he fumbled straightforward shots from van der Vaart and Tom Huddlestone in the latter stages.
There was a triple substitution with 10 minutes left as Hernandez, Giggs and Park made their entrance.
Giggs made an immediate impact supplying the cross for Rooney to head home United’s third goal from six yards with three minutes left to round off a memorable second-half display.