Manchester United welcomed Wayne Rooney with big cheers and open arms as they rolled to a 2-0 win over Wigan. The return of Rooney ends the saga that has plagued his season, featuring stories about his personal life, an ankle injury that wouldn't go away and a big contract argument that saw Rooney say he wanted to leave the club, and then turned around and signed a five-year extension.
The only thing left for Rooney to do now is find the back of the net. Rooney has scored just one goal this season and that came on a penalty kick.
It was far from United's best effort against Wigan, however. It took United 45 minutes until their first breakthrough over the Wigan defense. United also squandered several opportunities in front of the Wigan goal.
Wigan saw two men get sent off in the second half. But even against only nine men, United were only able to add one more goal to their tally.
Wayne Rooney came close twice to grabbing a goal on his return, having a superb header deflected over the bar by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Rooney later smashed a volley from a Nani cross right into the goalkeeper's chest.
While United should have won by a greater score line then 2-0, there were many positives for United from this match. United started the match with a very unfamiliar side. United played with Park, Nani and Obertan in midfield, with only Fletcher and Carrick playing in the center, and they employed young Federico Macheda as their lone striker.
But by the end of the match, United nearly had their full first team back on the field. Wayne Rooney, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Paul Scholes all came off the bench for United. Rooney returned from a lengthy injury while Scholes returned from a suspension that caused him to miss last week's trip to Aston Villa.
The news continued to get better for United— Even though he went unused, Ryan Giggs returned to the bench for United and will be available Wednesday when United face Rangers in the Champions League.
On the field, there were more positives for United. Patrice Evra collected his second Premier League goal in his four years at Old Trafford with a marvelous header. Meanwhile, the Manchester United defense, which has struggled mightily this season, kept a clean sheet despite good Wigan pressure in the first half.
The news was great even outside of Old Trafford Saturday, when Manchester United's rivals Arsenal let a two goal lead slip away to Tottenham in the North London Derby.
Shorty after the final whistle at Old Trafford, the final whistle blew in Birmingham, where former United goalkeeper Ben Foster did the Red Devils a huge favor by keeping a clean sheet against leaders Chelsea, as Birmingham collected all three points from the Champions.
With Chelsea losing and United picking up the three points, the Red Devils have now gotten back to the Premier League summit. United are now even on points with Chelsea, trailing them only in goal differential.
Despite seven draws this season, United remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. The future is now looking bright for United on a day when their biggest title rivals both lost.
Just one week ago, Sir Alex Ferguson was saying he had no idea what players he would have available for the Manchester Derby against Manchester City. Now, United are back on top, and have their top players back from injury and ready to play.