Manchester United made a winning start under Ryan Giggs with a 4-0 victory over Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Giggs has been placed in temporary charge following the dismissal of David Moyes. His reign may only be four games, but he set off on the front foot with three points courtesy of two goals apiece from Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.
One of the biggest cheers of the day came before kick-off, as Giggs made his way out of the tunnel. It was a strange sight, as rather than running out in his kit, the United legend was decked out in a club blazer, shirt and tie.
Ryan Giggs - Manchester United manager pic.twitter.com/MSjc7CTUAy— Man United Live (@ManUnitedLive20) April 26, 2014
In his first press conference since taking the reins from Moyes, Giggs said his priority was to put smiles back on the fans’ faces:
"I'll tell the players just to try to enjoy yourself, express yourself. I just want them to enjoy themselves and give the fans something to smile about in the remaining four games."
It took United some time to bring out those smiles, as their play lacked fluency. But a penalty from Rooney five minutes before the break set Giggs off on a winning note.
Giggs has given no indication as to whether he wants the job on a full-time basis. If he does, he made a winning start, and further victories in the final three games of the season against Sunderland, Hull City and Southampton will do him no harm.
United took 15 minutes to carve out a decent chance, and Norwich keeper John Ruddy had to be alert to beat out a fierce drive from Danny Welbeck.
Ruddy is pressing for a place in the England World Cup squad, and he did his cause no harm with a fine save on the 40-minute mark.
United winger Antonio Valencia let fly with a stinging low drive that was bound for the far corner, but Ruddy got down well to make the save.
The Norwich keeper could do nothing about United’s opener one minute later, having been let down badly by his defenders.
A ball went through a clutch of Norwich defenders and landed at the feet of Welbeck. Steven Whittaker attempted to make the saving tackle, but he ended up pulling the United forward to the ground.
Rooney took responsibility from the spot, and he made no mistake to chalk up the first goal of the Giggs era at Old Trafford.
United’s effort in the opening 45 minutes lacked dynamism, and such displays in the Sir Alex Ferguson era may well have prompted the fabled hairdryer treatment. It’s too early to gauge what Giggs’ management style is and whether he actually said anything of significance at the break, but his side came out far sharper in the second half.
Rooney doubled the advantage with a goal on 49 minutes. Cutting in from the left, Norwich made the criminal mistake of not closing Rooney down, and he curled his shot into the far corner from 20 yards despite slipping at the point of impact.
The third should have arrived on 54 minutes, but Nemanja Vidic headed over from five yards out.
Giggs could well have the golden touch. He threw on Mata just past the hour mark, and within a minute, the Spaniard found his way onto the scoresheet.
Mata made his way into the box and was in the right place to volley home Phil Jones’ low cross.
Three became four on 73 minutes, with Mata showing the predatory instincts a forward would be proud of as he drifted into the six-yard box and stooped to head home Valencia's cross.
Ryan thanked the #mufc fans for an “amazing reception” and jokingly added: “I might retire from management now with a 100% record!”— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 26, 2014
Norwich never threatened to spoil Giggs' big day and instead looked every inch a side in real danger at the foot of the table. They are now just one point above the drop zone.
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