United put Wolves to the sword: Match Review
Manchester United 3 - 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tue 15 Dec 2009
Angry Wolves fans launched a blistering attack on manager Mick McCarthy for a team selection that virtually handed Sir Alex Ferguson a 3-0 victory on a plate to mark his 900th game as Manchester United manager.
Chants of "we want our money back", "where is our first team" and "£40 to watch the reserves" bellowed out of the visiting section after McCarthy made 10 changes to the side that defeated Tottenham on Saturday.
Although Wolves' second string battled hard, the result was a formality and, if United had got themselves out of third gear, they would probably have won by a more comfortable margin than goals from Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic and Antonio Valencia gave them.
McCarthy, presumably, was not offering his team selection as a gift to mark the latest milestone in Ferguson's long and illustrious career.
The Yorkshireman had his reasons for making 10 changes, notably the weekend encounter with Burnley, one of the sides who rose from the Championship with Wolves last term.
But Wolves now have five days to prepare for that one.
For half an hour the hardy band of travelling fans had plenty to cheer as their representatives gave everything in the Wolverhampton cause.
If Rooney had taken the third-minute opening that presented itself when Darron Gibson's shot crashed into him, the landslide the team sheets suggested might have materialised.
Instead, Marcus Hahnemann, the one player to keep his place from White Hart Lane, made a close-range save, as he did to deny the England striker when he got on the end of Patrice Evra's low cross midway through the half.
It seemed barely credible the visitors should give United any more assistance.
But that is exactly what Ronald Zubar did as he rose to head away Gibson's corner under minimal pressure and instead punched it out of the area.
Having been so lethargic before, Rooney upped the pace by drilling home his 13th goal of the season.
Once in front, there was never any real suggestion United would not join Chelsea at the Premier League summit, having failed in that objective against Aston Villa at the weekend.
On his first league start, Gabriel Obertan was guilty of taking too much time to get his crosses in, a failing that Cristiano Ronaldo received a few admonishments for earlier in his career.
If the young French winger needed any proof the direct route was best, he got it when Vidic rose highest at a Gibson corner and got enough power into his header to carry it over the line, even though Hahnemann attempted a goal-line block.
The effort secured victory and the hosts knew it, which probably explained the sense of lethargy that gripped them at the start of the second period.
Vidic's departure was the most notable aspect of that period. The defender did raise his hands to say he was willing to continue after originally indicating a desire to come off and Ferguson will be hopeful of having him fit for Saturday's testing trip to Fulham.
It did not matter on this occasion, though, and the scene was set for a brilliant piece of skill from Dimitar Berbatov.
Such a maddeningly laid-back figure, the Bulgarian first collected Paul Scholes' lofted pass before delivering a brilliant overhead kick into the path of Valencia, who drove a first-time shot into the roof of the net.
The 15 minutes Ferguson afforded Michael Owen as replacement for Rooney was presumably not what England boss Fabio Capello had in mind when he said he wanted the striker to play more often.
But, then again, this was not what Manchester United away was meant to mean for Wolves when the fixture list came out, either.
McCarthy will only know whether his grand plan has worked on a professional level on Sunday afternoon.
Many disgruntled Wolves fans making that late-night trip back down the M6 might not be quite so easily convinced.
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