The first test of the month, at Aston Villa, was passed cautiously, an inaugural Reds goal for Phil Jones combining with some top-drawer defending to earn three points. From then on, though, the goalscoring shackles came off. Wolves were the first to fall, shipping four at Old Trafford. Two-nil up at the interval thanks to Nani and Wayne Rooney, United’s lead was halved by a Stephen Fletcher header soon afterwards, but the Reds’ duo duplicated their first-half efforts to effectively end the contest just after the hour mark.
A week later at Loftus Road, less than a minute in, Rooney was on target again, and while the Hoops goal was breached just once more (a memorable Michael Carrick run and shot), a goal deluge seemed only a matter of time. It duly arrived, just down the road, at Fulham the following Wednesday. Again United struck early – Danny Welbeck sweeping home in the fifth minute; Nani and Ryan Giggs (continuing his record of scoring in every Premier League season) made it 3-0 before the break; and the Cottagers’ misery was compounded at the death by Rooney and then Dimitar Berbatov – off the bench to produce an impudent, injury-time backheel, his first league goal of 2011/12.
By the end of the next match, Wigan on Boxing Day, Berba had quadrupled his league tally, scoring three as United made it a second successive 5-0 (opener from Ji-sung Park; first league goal of the season for Antonio Valencia) against a Latics side down to 10 for most of the game. And so to Blackburn, where two further goals from Berbatov, wiping out Rovers’ shock two-goal lead, made six wins from six odds-on – until Grant Hanley headed the visitors back in front 10 minutes