“You Won’t Win Anything With Kids”
Manchester United finished their home campaign off with a victory that was inspired by the performance of a young local debutant, James Wilson, who grabbed a brace on a memorable night.
Yet, it also represented a poignant and emotional farewell for Nemanja Vidic who was making his last appearance at the Theatre of Dreams. As for Giggs, the interim boss gave little away during his final talk, leaving us none the wiser to his plans for the coming season.
A much reshuffled XI from Saturday’s Sunderland defeat saw Giggs hand out two debuts. Youngsters James Wilson and Tom Lawrence appeared in the starting XI having had rather different campaigns thus far. Whilst Wilson has shot through the ranks from the U18s, Lawrence has gained experience with both Carlisle and Yeovil Town. Alongside them, Fellaini, Januzaj, Valencia and Buttner came into the much changed side.
Early on, Januzaj was unfortunate to see a penalty shout denied after being hacked down by Figueroa but United continued to assert their early dominance, with the visitors struggling to get themselves into the United half. Yet, for all the sustained possession, the home side were struggling to apply the final penetrative pass to carve open an attack.
Whilst doing so, Phil Jones launched himself into the air from a corner and took an awkward tumble that forced him off the pitch and accelerated the introduction of the departing warrior. Accordingly, Old Trafford took to its feet to applaud Vidic for his final bow.
Soonafter, United got the breakthrough when Fellaini utilised his physicality to cushion the ball across goal for debutant Wilson to pounce. The striker was the quickest to react and instinctively slotted his shot through the keepers legs. The tension was broken, and the players rushed to congratulate United’s latest idol.
The second half began with the urgency and intensity Giggs displayed from his youth as Tom Lawrence stormed forward right from the off, undaunted by the prospect of nerves, and James Wilson acrobatically tried to double his tally.
It was the young Belgian, Adnan Januzaj who set up the second goal however when he broke clear and skipped free from a challenge before expertly setting up his fellow countryman Fellaini. Whilst the midfielder saw his shot well saved, James Wilson was on hand to tap in the rebound to double his, and United’s, tally for the night. The dream debut continued for the youngster, who was met with cries of “One James Wilson” from the adoring Stretford Enders.
A lack of focus from United allowed Hull to instantly snatch a goal back however when they allowed Matty Fryatt to drive in an effort from distance. Wilson was subbed off soon after, with his recent injury troubles in mind, but he was given a standing ovation from the 75,000 fans around the ground as he was replaced by Robin Van Persie in his place.
Similarly, interim player-manager Giggs then brought himself on for Tom Lawrence, who too will be most encouraged by his display. Minutes after coming on, Giggs nearly got his token league goal after a one-two with Kagawa but he saw shot blocked by Davies’ hand. From that point on, the crowd encouraged Giggs to shoot at every opportunity.
It was Van Persie who got the next goal however, after some wonderful interplay with Januzaj, when he fired in at the second time of asking. Then, after embarrassing the Hull players once again, David Meyley let his frustration get the better of him and stamped on Januzaj in such a manner that will probably see him pick up a ban that will result in him missing the FA Cup Final against Arsenal.
Giggs’ chance for the goal came very late on, with the Hull City keeper the only party pooper. Driving a freekick from 35 yards out, the Welshman’s wish was foiled as his shot was was pushed over and the full time whistle blew.
As it did, the crowd burst into rapturous applause for the team, Giggs and Vidic. As the manager addressed the crowd, he mentioned that they had “seen a glimpse of the future” and insisted success would be back. Vidic too thanked everyone “from the bottom of my heart” as he bit an emotional farewell to the Stretford End.
The game will undoubtedly belong to Giggs and Vidic, but the youth blossomed too. Sunday’s game at Southampton it seems will draw to a close some players time at the club but hopefully it will equally be the beginning of a few careers too.