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Newboys Buttner And Powell Star In Wigan Thumping

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Roberto Martinez’s Wigan Athletic came to Old Trafford for their annual thrashing as Sir Alex Ferguson fielded only 3 players from his first XI in Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic.

Only 4 minutes in and a blatant dive from Danny Welbeck gave Javier Hernandez the chance to show why he is 4th choice striker and now looking every bit a £6m player compared to the bargain of 2010. He didn’t disappoint with an effort that shows his lack of confidence and so justice was done.

A limp performance degenerated into an inept one as the first half drew to a close and Wigan realized that long diagonal balls exposed our fullbacks. They got under our skin and a few scary moments occurred.

Rio continues to play Carrick and Paul Scholes into trouble playing out of the back but generally the midfield 2 passed well and as the game progressed we dominated the middle of the park.

Upfront the duo of Hernandez and Welbeck is not a pairing that will beat many teams except in the Carling Cup. They aren’t a good combination and both prefer the ball over the top to chase. Welbeck is still raw, quick and with some flair but the Ole Gunnar Solksjaer comparison for Chicarito is starting to go stale as he struggles to recover his pre-head injury form.

The wings of Nani and Ryan Giggs were largely ineffective but Nani did have the occasional flash from his preferred right wing posting. Not the greatest first half but with a team that have hardly played together, it was to be expected.

After the break we crushed them. Nani, Carrick and Scholes carving out the first goal and then the new boys shone brightly thereafter.

Firstly Alexander Buttner. Fast, determined and wild – his debut eclipsed that of Patrice Evra who was embarrassingly withdrawn at halftime in his first start, way back against Manchester City in 2006.

Buttner scored a goal that epitomized his style and was rightly booked for a challenge that raises questions about his ability to mark a tricky winger and stay on the park. A trait Rafael knows all too much about in Europe where he looks like a liability.

Buttner does play like his Brazilian opposite, diving in, charging forward and defending too aggressively sometimes. But I like him; he is good cover for Evra and might challenge the French troublemaker into some form. The goal for Hernadez was also made by Buttner and he can be satisfied with himself and feel he can build on this. 

Nick Powell gave a debut filled with promise. As Giggs has proved for years and Robin van Persie has in weeks, natural physique, talent and touch are innate. While Wayne Rooney has to work hard, control his weight and his temper, like Scholes has to do too, Powell looks naturally a fit lad, and like Pogba has skill, touch and power. He is a thrilling prospect and frankly if Pogba had stayed would have been a very interesting 3 with Tom Cleverley. I can see what Sir was thinking.

So the annual thrashing occurred and job done as all probable challengers dropped points in a good weekend for United.

Off-field Rooney is said to be training hard and will hopefully be 10lbs lighter when we next see him.

Phil Jones and Chirs Smalling remain weeks away and so Jonny Evans’ return is also most welcome.

Wednesday sees Galatasaray test us in the Champion League group stage in which we failed so badly last term. I expect the team will be De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Rio and Vidic with Scholes, Carrick and Cleverley flanked by Valencia and Kagawa behind Robin. A 4-1-3-1-1 type formation with Kagawa and Robin coming from the left supplied by Valencia. A win is essential!

Wigan ruined our season last year, but today rolled over as asked as they faded badly. Normal service is now resumed at Old Trafford.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve

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