Rooney has started to look near his best for a number of weeks now and his showing in this encounter will give United fans encouragement their top man is once again firing on all cylinders. His second goal is testament to this, with a touch not only to bring the ball under control but enable him to swerve his body away from an opponent for the shot. This was truly Rooney at his most potent, playing on instinct to devastating effect. To have him in this kind of form heading into Wednesday’s vital Champions League encounter is a huge bonus for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
It is not only the form of Rooney which will be encouraging at Old Trafford, as Javier Hernandez was once again amongst the goals and Dimitar Berbatov showed what an asset he can be when chasing the game. Following his half-time introduction, Hernandez looked immediately to get himself on the score-sheet by connecting with a Ryan Giggs cross. This was another example of the predatory instinct of the Mexican. As the ball came into the box, Hernandez was at no time favourite, but his movement and desire saw him get in front of his marker to come close with his first touch. His late strike in Saturday’s game was his 11th in the Premier League in what has been a scintillating first season.
Berbatov will have felt aggrieved to again find himself on the bench following his winner in United’s last Premier League fixture, but when introduced he was able to show his worth to Ferguson’s side. It is the ability to play with his back to goal and shield the ball which brings a calmness to proceedings and enables the players around him to get into the game. Despite not scoring himself he gave a skilful and assured performance which must surely give his manager the best kind of selection issues for the remainder of the season.
Firing on three fronts, United may be depleted in defensive areas – despite the return of Nemanja Vidic they looked shaky at Upton Park – but it is the attacking options which must surely give them the edge over their nearest rivals. The last time United were in this position they had four quality strikers on which to call and each played their part in a triumphant season. This will surely be in the back of Ferguson’s mind as he decides how best to rotate his options. It was clear Hernandez made an instant difference, reuniting a blossoming partnership with Rooney, but the same can be said when Berbatov was introduced as he again changed the balance of the United side in much the same way as he did against Bolton.
Currently it is unclear what the best attacking combination Ferguson has, but what is certainly clear is the quality of all three and the impact they are likely to have on the distribution of silverware come the end of the season.