Hernandez 5, 58, Rooney 20, 25, 68
Manchester United sent out a message to their Premier League rivals with a dominant victory over Owen Coyle’s aggressive Bolton Wanderers outfit.
Rio Ferdinand returned to the side, pushing Phil Jones out to the right and Chris Smalling out of the starting XI, recognition of the esteem Sir Alex Ferguson still holds the 32-year-old centre-back in. Javier Hernandez made his first start this season whilst Bolton gave a debut to Dedryk Boyata and recalled Mark Davies to the midfield.
It became clear early on that Bolton were going to take an approach designed to unsettle United’s rhythm, a physical style pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. Paul Robinson clattered into Phil Jones after a couple of minutes while a Kevin Davies challenge on Tom Cleverly left the England midfielder with a possibly broken foot.
Unfortunately for Owen Coyle’s side, the confidence flowing through the young United side means that a few solid challenges are not going to shake them. Five minutes in Hernandez lost Gary Cahill to prod home a Luis Nani cross. The movement from Hernandez to lose England centre-back should be played to all young footballers – it was sublime and exactly the sort of modern attacking play England so often lack up front.
United added a second when Wayne Rooney touched in a Jones cross. Jones’ performance typifies the ‘new’ United. The £16.5m summer signing spent more time marauding forward to link up with the impressive Nani than he did worrying about Bolton’s attackers. With Jonny Evans rising to the challenge posed by Jones and Smalling to produce his most assured performance for Ferguson’s men in a long time, the strength in depth for United’s back line should scare the opponents.
The other masterstroke from Ferguson is to make the previously below-par Anderson look like a man capable of being the heart of United’s midfield for years. Suddenly the simple is simple for the young Brazilian. The burden of having Paul Scholes waiting on the substitutes bench was possibly too much, and the release of that pressure could be the making of the player.
As it became clear that United would cope with Bolton’s physical approach, Coyle’s side had no idea how to manage the rampant United. Rooney lead the assault, dropping deep to collect the ball and encouraging Nani, Anderson and Jones forward. The goals were simple affairs, with United carving the defence apart before finishing from close range.
Bolton have moved on from the leaden-footed, long-ball approach of Sam Allardyce’s regime, but the two wingers, Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles, were the only people trying to produce, rather than destroy. Mark Davies and Kevin Davies were the main offenders, and both could easily have sent off for hefty tackles in the first-half.
Kevin Davies was replaced with new signing David N’Gog and strike-partner Ivan Klasnic joined him on the bench 10 minutes later, with Sanli Tuncay coming on and Bolton immediately looked like a new team, but Tuncay was equally as powerless as his teammates to stop the visitors.
Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Knight, Cahill, Robinson; Eagles (Pratley 61), M. Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov; K. Davies (N’Gog 65), Klasnic (Tuncay 75)
Man Utd (4-4-2): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans (Smalling 61), Evra; Nani, Cleverly (Carrick 24), Anderson, Young (Giggs 61); Rooney, Hernandez
Did you know… Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick was his seventh for United, drawing him level with Sir Bobby Charlton.