Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United in the title groove

By Steven Beacom

“You win nothing with kids,” Alan Hansen once famously observed. As the Scot found out, that depends just how talented those kids happen to be.

Throughout the Sir Alex Ferguson years at Old Trafford, brilliant youngsters have been blooded with great success.

And now there is another crop of gifted Fergie fledglings for the Manchester United fans to get excited about.

There has been much talk lately about the qualities of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley.

In contrast Danny Welbeck hasn't been hitting the headlines. He changed that last night scoring once and creating another for Anderson as United defeated Tottenham 3-0, with the outstanding Wayne Rooney also on the scoresheet.

Welbeck's contributions to the goals were classy enough, but even more impressive was the character he displayed against a Spurs side, who after competing well capitulated as United turned on the style.

For the first hour, 20-year-old Welbeck was well shackled by the Tottenham rearguard, and on rare occasions looked a little out of his depth, but he didn't let his head drop for one second.

Far from it. Instead of hiding, he continually searched for the ball and was rewarded when he headed home to break the deadlock on 61 minutes.

It was a goal that Ferguson savoured because while Welbeck applied the finishing touch, the bright build-up play was supplied by Smalling and Cleverley, who delivered the most inviting of crosses. Boy, can these young guys play.

Confidence oozed out of Welbeck once his header hit the net. Fifteen minutes later he provided goal number two with a sublime back-heel to play in Anderson.

It was a high class goal and had the United fans on their feet. They were up again to salute Welbeck when he was substituted late on — a wise move by Ferguson allowing his young striker to enjoy the appreciation of the crowd.

There was more joy for the United supporters on 87 minutes when Rooney headed home the goal, from a Ryan Giggs cross, that his endeavour deserved. It could have been more than 3-0, but for the goalkeeping of Brad Friedel, making his Spurs debut as he kept out efforts from Cleverley, Rooney, Young and Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans, looking accomplished at the back beside Jones in the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Six points from two games for Manchester City. It's now the same for United.

United may have struggled in the first half, but once they got going there was no stopping them. As per usual at Old Trafford Spurs wilted.

Sadly for Harry Redknapp's side that old inferiority complex where United are concerned was evident as they fell behind. Waving a white flag is their speciality at the Theatre of Dreams.

Spurs have now failed to win their last 25 matches against the Red Devils, last beat them 10 years ago, and you have to go back to 1989 for their last victory at Old Trafford.

Prior to the match, scarves marking United's record 19th domestic title had been placed on every seat at Old Trafford.

When the teams walked out for kick-off the home fans held them aloft. It was quite a sight and a clear message to Liverpool supporters, famous for holding their scarves above their heads during renditions of You'll Never Walk Alone.

No-one would be surprised if scarves to mark title number 20 in May have to be produced. It's early days but City appear to be the only side capable of halting the United charge to more glory.

Belfast Telegraph


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