Belfast Telegraph

New blood gives United fans something to look forward to

By Kevin Garside

Wake me up I must be dreaming. But he wasn't. It was all for real, perhaps too real for the likes of Danny Welbeck and Xavier Hernandez. Half a chance, a short back lift and then bang, the ball was in the back of the Hull net and James Wilson was on the Old Trafford honours board at just 18-years-old.

An attachment to youth forms a central plank of Manchester United's identity and in the selection of Wilson and Tom Lawrence, 18 and 20 respectively, interim boss Ryan Giggs was keeping a flame alive.

Wilson, who has scored at every level this season from under-18 upwards, was included by David Moyes in the squad that pumped four past Newcastle, but walking out before 70-odd thousand people with a live number on your back constitutes a different order of challenge.

Across the public address a eulogy to Nemanja Vidic rang out. Sir Bobby Charlton presented the departing Serbian with his very own leaving gift and the Stretford End sang his name.

Out on the pitch Wilson was one of two young lads at the opposite end of their careers shuffling nervously.

On the last day of term at Old Trafford the temporary management team, otherwise known as the class of 92, were making a statement of sorts, placing renewal from within at the centre of the piece. In that, the Giggs/Butt/Scholes/Neville axis has considerable expertise.

Giggs argued in his programme address against the need for wholesale change, suggesting a few key additions would be sufficient to regenerate the whole.

While this is not a view universally held, he backed his thesis with the inclusion of a winger in his own image, Lawrence is Wrexham born, and hot shoe Wilson.

Marouane Fellaini, a man you might think in need of some encouragement of his own, led the pats on the back before kick-off.

Lawrence in particular started well. There have been too many holes in this desperate season, none greater than the absence, Adnan Januzaj apart, of a turn of foot to quicken the pulse.

Lawrence showed early a propensity to drop the shoulder and might have opened the scoring had his shot not deflected off an outstretched leg over the bar. Wilson was initially more circumspect.

Half an hour passed without a sniff, and then a floated free-kick from Januzaj, the third prong of United's youthful attack, was knocked down by Fellaini. Before the Hull defence could react, the kid was peeling away to his left with his hands in the air, his first goal for United nestling in the net.

This season of new beginnings under Moyes was never that. As the personal choice of Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes could never quite put the necessary distance between the old regime and his, and as a result the season has turned into a long goodbye with the last vestiges of the Fergie era minding the house until the new man arrives.

The post Ferguson culture shock at Old Trafford ultimately proved too great for Moyes to manage. It required a figure of equal stature, a manager or coach with a hinterland as substantial as Fergie's for whom the players would jump. And there are not too many of those.

Idiosyncratic as he might be, the seemingly incoming Louis Van Gaal is one, a man with the requisite experience at two of Europe's great clubs and with Holland.

And importantly he has no connections, personal or private, with the hierarchy that ran the club so successfully for a quarter of a century.

The outgoing season has at least made plain the need to pullulate properly and ought to purge those who survive the expected cull of complacency.

Vidic said farewell to Old Trafford last night from the bench ahead of his move to Inter. Giggs followed suit with 20 minutes to go in what might be his last appearance at Old Trafford.

The likes of Nani, Ashley Young, Hernandez, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Rio Ferdinand might follow Vidic out of the door.

At least Wilson gave United a lift adding a second on the hour.

James Wilson for England pealed around the ground. That's for another day. He won't sleep for a week as it is.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph