Manchester United sealed a 3-1 win over Hull City in their penultimate and final home game of the Premier League season on Tuesday, same night Nemaja Vidic said goodbye to the Old Trafford crowd.
James Wilson, 18, scored a brace on his debut, Matty Fryatt pulled a goal back for ‘The Tigers’ before substitute Robin van Persie completed scoring for the hosts.
Ryan Giggs came on for possibly the final time at the club ground, with his contract due to run out this summer, and the Serbian defender replaced the injured Phil Jones in an emotional farewell.
On the back of last weekend’s narrow home loss to Sunderland, the hosts braced up for all possibility of letting the season go from bad to awry. The winds of change sweeping through the corridors of Old Trafford had even Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand out of the squad, while goal hero, Wilson and another young forward Tom Lawrence got their shots.
It took Wilson 31 minutes to register his first team account when he pounced on a Marrouaine Fallaini’s knock-down in the box to rifle home the opening goal.
The teenage debutante bagged his second goal of the night a minute after the hour mark, following a link up play between Adnan Januzaj and Fellaini, and the latter’s rebound was clinically tucked into the net by Wilson.
Hull’s Fryatt immdediately responded with a stunning 25-yard effort, which flew past Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea.
But Van Persie, in only his second appearance since single-handedly aiding United through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a hat-trick against Olympiakos, sealed victory on 86 minutes. The Dutchman followed up a rebound of his own shot to rifle past Eldin Jakupovic.
The home team remained on the pitch after final whistle and their interim-boss, whose probable final appearance at Old Trafford did not bring a goal, was handed the microphone; at which moment it dawned on many of the ‘Red Devils’ faithful Giggs may have just had a testimonial.
The 40-year-old longest-serving clubman said: “”I’d just like to say a big thank you from all the players and all the staff for your support this year. A special thanks to Nemanja [Vidic] who is leaving us this year. He goes with all our best wishes for success in the coming years.
“We know it’s been tough this season and over the years we’ve been spoilt with the success we’ve had but you’ve always supported the team and the staff and I’m sure in the coming years we’ll bring you more success.
“I’d just like to say keep supporting us, you’ve seen a little glimpse of the future, we always play attractive football – keep supporting us and the good times will come back soon.”
Vidic, 32, will be joining Inter Milan next season after nine successful seasons in Manchester, bid an emotional farewell to the club supporters.
Vidic said: “I had so many great time here. It is hard to speak because of the emotions. Most important I would like to thank the players, the manager and all the coaches. Thank you for everything and especially to the fans, you have been fantastic to me all these years.”
It was all cheers for every other player, as those three points mean United can still finish sixth if results go their way on the final day of the season. They would need to beat Southampton away from home and hope Tottenham lose to Aston Villa at White Hart Lane for that to happen.
“I said when I took over I wanted to bring excitement back. Some of the forward play from the three young lads was brilliant,” Giggs added.
“We got the young lads in to train with us and they never looked out of place. I wanted to freshen things up from Saturday and they never let us down. James Wilson is not just a finisher, his all-round play is very good and he is exciting.
“My concentration has not changed, I will do my job on and off the pitch and we will see what happens after Sunday. The fans have kept supporting us and they will carry on supporting us.”
“It was hard in many ways, because it was my last game at Old Trafford, we did not have a great year as it was my first year not celebrating a trophy. It was a tough season,” admitted Vidic.
“It is the board to decide but Ryan has a real talent to be the manager and a good manager. If he is not successful this time then in the future he should be considered to be manager of this club.”