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Wigan 0 United 5

United have a very strong record playing at the JJB stadium, now the DW stadium, but have often had a much tougher game than the final score suggests. Last season, for example, the three points were very hard earned and it took everything out of the team to come away with a win late on. After the defeat at Burnley there was a lot of anxiety in the United camp as to how this one would go, but fortunately it all worked out perfectly. Before the game the sun was shining and United fans sunbathed around the away end of the ground, until police horses decided they wanted to occupy the exact same patch of grass that is. Inside the stands it was packed full of Reds singing in full voice as kick off approached, and the teams came through over the tannoy for the first time. I was perplexed as to why United, like last season, informed supporters that we had an allocation of under 4,000 yet we had the entire stand which has a capacity of over 5,500. I was then told United give pver 1,500 tickets to corporates, sponsors etc for this fixture- not impressed. Seeing as ‘ordinary’ Reds seemed to be in all of these seats, it seems fair to conclude loads of them ended up touted anyway.

On the pitch United played better than at Burnley but still could not find the net. There was something missing in front of goal but at least the play was a big quicker and sharper, and chances were being created. When the half time whistle sounded Reds were fairly satisfied, but there was also a worry the goal would not come. We needed a change of luck and it came in the way of three tourists from Hong Kong who arrived during the interval. They had flown in to London after a 13 hour flight and driven straight up to Wigan, but got delayed and missed the first half. They quickly put on their United shirts, scarves and hats, and the team seemed to respond!

The first goal came when the impressive Valencia turned it on against his old club and whipped in a cross to Rooney. The United end went mad, everyone so full of relief, and from that moment on the game was never really in doubt. After Wigan had a chance at the other end to equalise, United punished them with four more goals in fairly quick succession. Berbatov was involved in evertything and put in a far more impressive performance culminating in his goal,  Rooney added another to his tally, and even Michael Owen got on the score sheet. The reaction to Owen’s goal was fantastic by Reds- “You Scouse Bastard” echoed out from the north stand, almost entirely in gest but with some Reds no doubt meaning it. It was followed by a warm applause aimed at the former Liverpool striker- what a great way to not ignore the past but to accept his arrival. Finally, in stoppage time at the end, Nani added a fifth with a stunning free kick. Job done.

Leaving the ground United fans were jubilant, but there was also an acceptance that this was Wigan, and that some cracks had merely been papered over. So let’s enjoy the victory, but also be aware that just as Burnley did not mean United were an awful team, Wigan does not make us guaranteed champions again. The next two tests against Arsenal and City will be a much bigger test of how the team will perform this season, but yesterday’s result will leave many thinking we can rise to it.

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