Soccer

Rooney, Mata help Man United beats Norwich in Giggs debut

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The Canadian Press
4/26/2014 3:40:19 PM
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MANCHESTER, England -- Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata scored twice to ensure Ryan Giggs' spell as interim Manchester United manager began with a comfortable 4-0 victory against a mediocre Norwich side in the English Premier League on Saturday.

It was an upbeat end to a turbulent week at Old Trafford that saw manager David Moyes dismissed just 10 months after succeeding Alex Ferguson, paying the price for taking the club from champions to seventh place.

"They're all good players and all of us have let ourselves down this year," Giggs said. "We haven't played to the level that we're capable of this season, but we did that today."

However uplifting this rout was for disgruntled fans, it came against a relegation-threatened team with the worst away record in the league. And United did also score four goals in winning two of Moyes' last three domestic fixtures.

Although there could be a clamour for Giggs to stay in charge after these remaining four matches of the season, United plans to appoint a more experienced, proven trophy winner. Outgoing Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is the favourite for the job.

"Giggs has got all the credentials to be the next manager but that's down to the board," Rooney said.

The 40-year-old Giggs has grown up at Old Tafford, from coming as a supporter, rising through the youth team, becoming the club's most decorated player, and now occupying the manager's seat in the dugout.

"I was nervous, but as soon as I came out of the tunnel the reception I got, the staff got, and the players got was brilliant," Giggs said. "I've got to thank the fans for that because it's not been an easy week, but I felt 10 feet tall."

Having joked on Friday he would award himself a new five-year playing contract, Giggs denied himself a 963rd United appearance.

Watching from the sidelines in a club suit, Giggs ensured the team provided the cathartic experience desired by all at Old Trafford, near the end of a season of unparalleled inferiority and disorder in the Premier League era.

Although there was never a mutinous atmosphere even in the lowest points of Moyes' ill-fated reign, there has not been this much joy inside the ground for some time; supporters cheered loudly as Giggs emerged from the tunnel before kickoff. Fans inside the so-called Theatre of Dreams will start dreaming again of a brighter future.

As if to emphasize the extent of the club moving on after Moyes, it came with Saturday's start.

Marouane Fellaini, the overpriced 27.5 million pound midfield signing which defined Moyes' reign, didn't even make the bench and Mata, the club's record 37.1 million pound signing in January, was dropped from the starting lineup. Talented teenager Adnan Januzaj, who broke into the first team under Moyes, wasn't in the matchday squad.

The pre-match message by Giggs to the team was: Entertain, attack, play with a tempo. But it was listless for much of the first half until Rooney's penalty kick lifted the atmosphere just before halftime.

Rooney scored again within three minutes of the new half, and Mata's arrival from the bench ensured the victory was even more convincing.

Had United managed similar displays against the leading teams this season, Moyes might still be in a job and the team might be challenging for the title and not a Europa League spot.

"We underperformed, we obviously have to take a lot of the responsibility but we have to move on," Rooney said. "We have to show we are a top team and that's what we plan to do."

Ryan Giggs (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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