MAN UNITED 4, NORWICH CITY 0
The swagger of old was back as Ryan Giggs made a winning start as Manchester United’s interim manager.
Two goals apiece from Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata made it a night to remember as the Reds marked the start of the post David Moyes era in style with an emphatic victory against Norwich City.
They recorded their biggest win of the season at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League and they also, perhaps more tellingly, also had 11 shots on target which is more than in any other game this season.
United, who had a total of 25 goal attempts, produced some dazzling football in the second period as they blitzed a Canaries side which is looking increasingly likely to be relegated.
And the crowd reacted with a positive buzz about Old Trafford with fans staying long after the final whistle to cheer Giggs and the team as they left the field.
Supporters from the Malta Football Forum even hired a light aircraft to display a banner ‘Thank U Moyes.’
Giggs, lauded by Rooney in a post-match interview as having all the credentials to be United’s next manager, was delighted joking: “I could get used to this.
“Winning is the same feeling, though as manager it is more of a relief.”
Giggs added he was moved by the reception he received from the fans before the game.
He said: “The reception was great. I have walked out the tunnel for so many big games, but that was the best. I felt so proud and 10ft tall.
“Did I sleep last night – no. Leaving out players is not nice when they are team mates. I have never had to do it before and that was the hardest part.”
Giggs pointed out it was especially tough to leave £38million record buy Juan Mata on the bench.
He continued: “He was disappointed, but showed class as a player and professional. It was a half-hour masterclass when he came on.
“It is not easy when you have a big price tag and when you don’t start, but I am delighted with the impact he made.”
Giggs recalled home-grown Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley while Mata had to be content with a place in the bench.
The suited Giggs emerged from the tunnel pre-match to a tumultuous reception, a measure of the affection of the fans and their desire for him to succeed.
United made a lively start without possessing a cutting edge while there was a defensive let off when Jonny Howson had the ball in the net only for the effort to be ruled out for a push in the build up by Ricky Van Wolfswinkel on Phil Jones.
Welbeck had United’s first attempt at goal after almost quarter of an hour as his fiercely-struck shot brought a decent save from Canaries’ keeper John Ruddy.
Shinji Kagawa went close turning a far-post cross from Jones into the side netting while an angled shot from Antonio Valencia was beaten out by Ruddy.
The breakthrough finally came in the 39th minute when Norwich conceded a penalty as Welbeck was brought down by Steve Whittaker and Rooney scored from the spot.
And three minutes into the second half, Rooney struck again with a fabulous solo effort as he cut in from the left and from 22 yards curled a delightful shot low to the left of Ruddy for his 19th goal of the season.
It looked as though the floodgates might open as Welbeck forced another super save from Ruddy who also had to make a diving saved to deny Rooney his hat trick while Nemanja Vidic headed over at the far post from Rooney’s corner.
United keeper David De Gea wasn’t called into action until the 59th minute when he beat out a fiercely-struck free kick from Robert Snodgrass.
Mata made it 3-0 within four minutes of making his entrance on the hour. Ruddy made a great save to beat away Rooney’s shot which was bending towards the top corner. Valencia cut the loose ball back to Jones whose low cross was turned in by the Spaniard from six yards.
And Mata struck again in the 73rd minute with a header from a couple of yards after Valencia drove the ball towards goal following a cross from Patrice Evra for his fifth goal since his January move to Old Trafford.
United had chances to add further goals, notably in stoppage time when substitute Javier Hernandez burst clean through only to shoot wide.
Norwich ought to have got on to the scoresheet in the dying minutes as United took their foot off the gas. De Gea had to be alert to turn over a shot from Bradley Johnson, Snodgrass curled an effort inches wide while at the death Martin Olsson’s deflected shot hit the crossbar, but United somehow managed to keep a clean sheet.