Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rolled back the years with two goals in United’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Orlando Pirates in Durban on Saturday.
The Norwegian gave the Reds the perfect start to their three-game South Africa tour, scoring inside five minutes, then grabbing a second a minute before half-time, to set Sir Alex’s men on course for an impressive opening win.
Two further goals in the second half – a Kieran Richardson strike and a comical own goal from Pirates keeper Francis Chansa – gave United the win they were hoping for.
However, it was not so much the margin of victory that will have pleased the Reds boss as the strenuous workout given to his players by this competitive encounter - not to mention the performances of his senior players.
Paul Scholes, who Sir Alex said was 100% fit prior to the match, demonstrated that he’s lost none of his guile and trickery during his lay-off. Ryan Giggs again showed that he enjoys his new role in central midfield. Whilst Solskjaer’s clinical finishing showed that he’s far from the spent force some would have you believe.
From the pace at which United began the game it was hard to believe that this was their first match since Roy Keane’s testimonial back in May.
Inside a minute they could have been ahead. Ole Solskjaer hussled Innocent Mdledle into conceding a corner and from the resulting Richardson deadball John O’Shea – playing alongside Wes Brown in central defence – saw his header cleared off the line.
The breakthrough was not long in following. Barely sixty-second later the Reds bright start was rewarded, courtesy of a slick move involving Giuseppe Rossi, Giggs and Solskjaer.
The young Italian showed a neat touch to control an O’Shea long ball on the edge of the Pirates’ penalty area. He fed Giggs who spotted Solskjaer free on his right, and the Norwegian emphatically dispatched the ball past the Bucs keeper Francis Chansa.