Manchester United 3 Hull City 1: Ryan Giggs revives tradition of blooding young talent as James Wilson impresses

The youngster scored twice on his debut

Old Trafford

Wake me up, I must be dreaming. But he wasn’t. It was all for real, perhaps too real for the likes of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez. Half a chance, a short back lift and then bang, the ball was in the back of the Hull City net and James Wilson was on the Old Trafford honours board at just  18-years-old.

An attachment to youth forms a central plank of Manchester United’s identity and in the selection of Wilson and Tom Lawrence, 20, interim manager Ryan Giggs was keeping a flame alive.

Wilson, who has scored at every level this season from Under-18 upwards, was included by David Moyes in the squad that put four past Newcastle last month, but walking out before 70-odd thousand people with a live number on your back constitutes a different order of challenge.

Across the public address a eulogy to Nemanja Vidic rang out. Sir Bobby Charlton presented the departing Serbian with his very own leaving gift and the Stretford End sang his name. Out on the pitch Wilson was one of two young lads at the opposite end of their careers shuffling nervously.

On the last day of term at Old Trafford the temporary management team, otherwise known as the class of  ’92, were making a statement of sorts, placing renewal from within at the centre of the piece. In that the Giggs/Butt/Scholes/Neville axis has considerable expertise.

Giggs argued in his programme address against the need for wholesale change to the squad, suggesting a few key additions would be sufficient to regenerate the whole. While this is not a view universally held, he backed his thesis with the inclusion of a winger in his own image – Lawrence is Wrexham-born – and hot-shot Wilson.

James Wilson displayed predatory instinct to give United the lead (Getty) James Wilson displayed predatory instinct to give United the lead (Getty)
Marouane Fellaini, a man you might think in need of some encouragement of his own, led the pats on the back before kick-off. And finally the referee’s whistle ushered them into this world. Lawrence in particular started well, coming deep to take a touch and when facing goal taking on his man. There have been too many holes in this desperate season, none greater than the absence, Adnan Januzaj apart, of a turn of foot to quicken the pulse.

Lawrence showed early a propensity to drop the shoulder and might have opened the scoring had his shot not deflected off an outstretched leg over the bar. Wilson was initially more circumspect, but then he had two out-house doors closing around him whenever the ball came close.

Half an hour passed without a sniff, and then a floated free-kick from Januzaj, the third prong of United’s youthful attack, was knocked down by Fellaini. Before the Hull defence could react, the kid was peeling away to his left with his hands in the air, his first goal for United nestling in the back of the net.      

This season of new beginnings under Moyes was never that. As the personal choice of Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes could never quite put the necessary distance between the old regime and his, and as a result the season has turned into a long goodbye with the last vestiges of the Fergie era minding the house until the new man arrives.

The post-Ferguson culture shock at Old Trafford ultimately proved too great for Moyes to manage. It required a figure of equal stature, a manager or coach with a hinterland as substantial as Fergie’s for whom the players would jump. And there are not too many of those.

Idiosyncratic as he might be, the seemingly incoming Louis van Gaal is one, a man with the requisite experience at two of Europe’s great clubs and in the international arena with the Netherlands. And importantly he has no connections, personal or private, with the hierarchy that ran United so successfully for a quarter of a century.

James Wilson celebrates with Nemanja Vidic, who was making his last appearance at Old Trafford for United (Getty) James Wilson celebrates with Nemanja Vidic, who was making his last appearance at Old Trafford for United (Getty)
The outgoing season has at least made plain the need to pullulate properly and ought to purge those who survive the expected cull of complacency. Vidic said farewell to Old Trafford last night from the bench ahead of his move to Internazionale in the summer. Giggs followed suit with 19 minutes to go in what might be his last appearance at Old Trafford.

The likes of Luis Nani, Ashley Young, Hernandez, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Rio Ferdidand, to name a few, demonstrated in the home defeat to Sunderland how they might follow Vidic out the door without hurting the prospects of this team. Only Carrick survived last night.

This is not how United envisaged seeing out the season. Dead rubbers in May are not what this club is about. Tonight Manchester is witness to a match of real significance that ought to see the title inch further across town.

United, meanwhile, hang on to the vague hope of a Europa League spot via sixth position in the table, and even for that they require Tottenham to fall asleep one more time. At least Wilson gave them a lift, adding a second on the hour, clearing up after another exquisite burst down the right by Januzaj. 

“James Wilson for England” pealed around the ground. That’s for another day. He won’t sleep for a week as it is.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen