While Dimitar Berbatov is the league’s top scorer this season, the decision to start Hernandez up front alongside Wayne Rooney suggested that the Sir Alex Ferguson was looking for a more direct threat to get in behind a Wigan back-line that often plays a high offside trap. The Latics and the Red Devils traded blows in an end-to-end beginning, with Edwin van der Sar having to smartly deny Wigan certain goals with fine stops from Victor Moses and James McCarthy. Hernandez opened the scoring with a tight finish at Ali Al Habsi’s near post, emphasising the fact that for all Wigan’s smooth passing and crisp build-up play, they lack a true finisher such as the agile Mexican. Similarly, while Nemanja Vidic was again a rock at the back for United, the likes of Antolin Alcaraz suffered badly for Wigan – poor marking and a mis-timed offside trap allowed Rooney to slot Hernandez in for the second, while Alcaraz tried to play Berbatov offside for the third goal, despite both men being in United’s half. It was a perfect example of the scale of the job that Roberto Martinez has on his hands to avoid relegation.
Nani was a pest to Wigan throughout the game, and his cross for the first goal now means that he has 14 assists for the season. However, he was at times wasteful against Wigan, with Ferguson hauling him off for Fabio after the Portuguese dallied on the ball at 2-0; the Scot is keen to stamp out any lapses in concentration that have cost late points against the likes of Everton, West Brom and Birmingham. Fabio managed to score his first goal for United, impressing in the little time he had on the left wing. Despite a slow start to his Old Trafford career through injuries and the form of Patrice Evra, the young Brazilian may be given more chances further up the pitch in future.
Rooney also returned to scoring ways through a tap-in from a selfless Berbatov assist. Although the striker laboured at times, he finished the match with a goal and a beautifully-weighted assist for Hernandez’s second. However, Rooney was in danger of losing his temper, particularly in an early encounter with McCarthy in the 10th minute in which he appeared to lead with an elbow. It’ll be interesting to see whether any further action is taken against Rooney, as United can ill-afford to be without him with games against Chelsea and Liverpool fast-approaching.