Wigan 0 United 5: Verdict
Wayne Rooney slump or injury away from the `crisis' word being uttered again. The goal centurion has taken on board the Ronaldo talisman mantle with relish. Once again, as at Turf Moor, it looked in the first half like missed chances were going to blight the Reds again. Chance Just 12 months ago Darren Fletcher began the season like a train scoring in the first two matches. But this term, the midfielder has struggled in front of goal. A shocker against Birmingham and after four minutes at Wigan he was nicely placed to tuck in an early opener but had his close effort blocked. Not to worry, four minutes later another excellent touch from Dimitar Berbatov rolled the ball invitingly in Paul Scholes' path. Is there any United player you would rather have been steaming on to that chance than such a sweet ball striker as Scholes? The United bench and the Reds' fans were almost celebrating as his boot struck the ball. Astonishingly, it ended up high in the stand among the disturbing amount of empty seats among the Latics' support. It breathed life into Wigan and with Paul Scharner and Titus Bramble galvanised, newcomer Mohamed Diame looking comfortable and confident, plus Jordi Gomez wandering around dangerously between United's defence and midfield nobody would surely have risked even 10 pence on a 5-0 finish in the champions' favour. Keeper Ben Foster kept United in it and then Rooney took charge. Antonio Valencia had been a pretty subdued figure on his return to Wigan. But after he agitated his old fans after claiming a clout in the face, he responded quickly to their boos by planting the 56th minute cross on to Rooney's head. This time Bramble and Scharner were exposed. Foster had to pull off another excellent save from Rodallega a minute later but after that chance went begging, Wigan fell apart. United mercilessly seized on their hosts' collapse of confidence. Just 20 minutes after evacuating their changing room early no doubt after a few choice words from Fergie, they were 3-0 ahead with the impressive Berbatov lifting home the second and Rooney ramming in his second. It would have made a nice symmetry after opening his United goal account in 2004 with a hat-trick against Fenerbahce, for Rooney to celebrate his 100 with another match ball. He couldn't manage it in the seven minutes before he made way for Michael Owen but at least it gave the summer free-capture a chance to get his Old Trafford tally up and running. With Wigan drained, and the Reds rampant it would have been a touch worrying, had Owen not broken his duck. But Nani's smart pass was finished off in typical Owen style. The winger who provided the assist then completed Wigan's misery with a clinical free-kick.