24/08/2009 08:50, Report by Stewart Gardner
The perfect response
Wigan, can we play you every week? 10 games, 10 wins, 30 goals scored, 4 conceded. If United really need a win then seeing Wigan’s name on the fixture list leaves every Red salivating! And make no mistake, United really did need a win after last week’s Turf Moor torment.
Judging by the media reaction after the 1-0 defeat last week, United were already a spent force. Written off, and in crisis. Critics just couldn’t wait to put the boot in.
It wasn’t just one of those occasional shock results that makes football such a great game. No, it was prima facie evidence that the Champions were in terminal decline. Michael Owen? Finished! Total nonsense, of course. A ludicrous over-reaction.
One of the manager’s mantras is that after a setback it’s how you respond that matters. What a response he had at the DW Stadium on Saturday. It was just about the perfect day. Wayne Rooney joined the 100 club, Dimitar Berbatov got on the goal trail again, Nani proved there is life after Ronaldo’s free-kicks and, best of all, Michael Owen grabbed his first United goal.
Those of us who were lucky enough to travel to Asia with United in pre-season never had any doubts that the goals would come for Owen. He scored four and looked as sharp as a tack.
He spoke to MUTV after the game on Saturday and it seemed pretty clear to me that he was perplexed at the way he’d been written off in some quarters after missing a couple of chances against Burnley and Birmingham. It seems odd to me that a guy who’s scored more than 200 club goals in his career still has to prove himself to anyone.
As for Rooney, his is a great achievement: 101 goals in 242 United appearances. He joins a pretty exclusive club. And he’s still only 23. How far could he go? If he gets lucky with injuries then he could have another decade or so at the top. Could Sir Bobby’s remarkable tally of 249 goals be under threat?