More like it from Manchester United. West Brom put Manchester United on the back foot straight away and settled into the game quicker. After initial pressure from West Brom, United pushed forward and began to dictate play which eventually paid off 35 minutes in as Phil Jones headed in a Robin van Persie free-kick to give United the lead that they hold until the break.
The second half was all about United. Wayne Rooney put us 2-0 up with a header from a fine Rafael cross and Danny Welbeck sealed the victory with a clinical finish to make it 3-0.
It was a composed performance from United who never looked stretched after the first 20 minutes. David Moyes will be really pleased with how we played.
Moyes was right to leave out Vidic and Ferdinand. In his pre-match press conference, Moyes insisted he would be blooding Manchester United’s young defenders into the team and he stood by his word in playing Jones and Smalling today.
It was the right decision. When Victor Anichebe burst through in the first half, Smalling matched him for pace and put in a great challenge. If that had been Vidic or Ferdinand, neither would have been able to match Anichebe for pace and would have likely dragged him down to be sent off which would have changed the outlook of the game completely.
Jones was all over the place at the start defensively but improved as the game went on in his first game back and he will only get better the more games he plays.
Plenty of players showed their real colours today. After the justified criticism that Manchester United players have had in recent weeks, they deserve some praise for their performance today.
Robin van Persie was far more involved and up for it than he has been. He was committed and dropped deep like he did last season. His lung-busting run that led to Foster’s handball was a testament to that.
Marouane Fellaini played precisely how United fans expected him to when we signed him – aggressive, powerful and decisive. He was a real presence in the midfield alongside Carrick today.
Rafael also had a fantastic game at right-back. Moyes shouted at him at the start of the game to get forward more often and he obliged. He had a header that glanced the crossbar and provided the cross for Rooney’s goal. That’s the Rafael we saw week in week out last season.
Referee consistency still isn’t there. Adnan Januzaj was booked for handball in the West Brom penalty area in the first half and although it was slightly harsh, you could understand why the referee gave it.
So when Ben Foster came outside of his area, completely miscued his kick and the ball ricocheted off his hand to stop Van Persie being clean through on goal, he was surely going to be sent off? No. Not even a foul was given. Where’s the consistency in that?
Manchester United may have turned the page in the Premier League. We’ve now played two games since Fellaini returned and we’ve started with Rooney, Van Persie, Mata and Januzaj up front – and both performances have been very comfortable.
A 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace was followed by a dismal performance against Olympiacos but United bounced back today. That’s five goals scored and zero conceded in our last two league games.
Moyes knows how important March is with home games against Liverpool and Manchester City coming up but if United can build on these two league performances, there is at least some hope that we can get something out of those games. If we don’t, there are going to be serious questions about Moyes’ tenure as manager.