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.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn