Manchester United: Home season ends in successful fashion

Manchester United came out 3-1 winners against Hull City in their last home game of the season.  In a season where their home form has been patchy, United will be happy to end with a comfortable win.  Ryan Giggs chose to field a youthful line-up, giving debuts to 20-year-old winger, Tom Lawrence, and 18-year-old striker, James Wilson.  It was Wilson who stole the show, scoring twice, once in each half, to put United in a commanding position.

Old Trafford, usually a fortress for Manchester United, has seen some poor results this season.

Giggs selected a youthful squad, relying on Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick to provide experience.  Marouane Fellaini slotted in behind Wilson, and despite providing the assist for the first goal, he put in a lackluster performance.  Fellaini has not played behind the striker often this season, and offered no reason that he should play there again next season. Adnan Januzaj put in a brilliant performance, pulling the strings from midfield, and supplying many of the team’s opportunities.

Three minutes in, Januzaj crossed the ball into Fellaini who knocked it into Wilson’s path. Wilson’s shot was blocked, but he was in a great position.  Worryingly for England fans, Phil Jones injured his shoulder after 16 minutes and had to be replaced by Nemanja Vidic, who was making his last home performance for United, having agreed to sign for Inter Milan this summer.  In the 31st minute Wilson got himself in another great position, and this time he scored from an opportunity that was almost a carbon copy of his earlier chance.  This time, he hit Fellaini’s knock-down past the keeper, Eldin Jakupovic, to give United a 1-0 lead.  Fellaini’s header was his first assist of the season.

United kept going in the second-half and it was Januzaj who created many of the opportunities.  He beat the Hull defenders frequently, but United were unable to capitalize on the opportunities until the 61st minute.  Januzaj burst down the right flank from his own half, beat Curtis Davies, and squared it Fellaini, who from point blank was unable to beat Jakupovic.  He was eight yards out and hit it directly at the keeper.  Unable to hold it, the keeper turned it away into the feet of Wilson, who buried the chance to make it 2-0.  However, the two-goal advantage would last just two minutes.

In the 63rd minute, Matty Fryatt picked the ball up on the edge of the United box and beat two defenders before blasting it past David de Gea from 18 yards away.  Fryatt hit the ball very sweetly, but de Gea should have done better.  He moved slowly and might have been able to save the shot on another day.  He had very little to do up to that point, so it may have been a lack of concentration.  Sensing that United may need some more experience, Giggs brought himself on, for his 963rd, and possibly final, appearance for Manchester United.

The 3-1 win against Hull was likely Ryan Giggs’, Manchester United’s most successful player, last appearance as a player. This was a club-record 963rd appearance.

In the 70th minute, Giggs replaced Lawrence to rapturous applause.  Every touch was greeted by shouts of “shoot!” from the fans.  Giggs should have had a penalty when his shot deflected against  Alex Bruce’s hand, but the referee turned down his appeal.  Although he was unable to score, Giggs was responsible for United’ third goal.  He collected the ball 40 yards away from the Hull goal and threaded a beautiful pass to Robin van Persie.  Although van Persie’s first shot was blocked, the rebound fell kindly and he volleyed it past the keeper.  Giggs almost scored from a free-kick in injury-time, but the Jakupovic saved well by turning it over the bar.  The referee, Craig Pawson, will definitely have some explaining to do after missing a few calls.

Pawson has several penalty appeals to answer for because there were a few straight-forward calls he missed throughout the game.  Four minutes in, Maynor Figueroa brought down Januzaj in the box, a clear-cut penalty, however it was not given.  There were several handball shouts throughout the game, yet Pawson decided none of them were penalty offenses.  Pawson also missed David Meyler’s stamp on Januzaj in injury-time.  After tangling over the ball, Meyler stamped on Januzaj’s shin, and although it was not seen, he should have been sent off, and will likely face retrospective action.

This was likely Giggs’  last appearance at Old Trafford and he will be pleased with the performance from his squad.  The result gives United an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, but it is unlikely given that Tottenham would need to lose on the final day of the season at home against Aston Villa.   Wilson had a debut to remember, and it will be interesting to see whether or not he starts this weekend against Southampton.