Man Utd 4 – 0 Hull

By Ian Hughes

Wayne Rooney
Rooney was in imperious form as he inspired United to victory

Wayne Rooney scored all four goals to send Manchester United top of the Premier League after victory over Hull.

Rooney opened the scoring when he slotted in a rebound after Paul Scholes’ shot was beaten away.

After Nani’s free-kick was pushed on to the woodwork by keeper Boaz Myhill, United worked the ball to Rooney who smashed in a drive to make it 2-0.

Rooney headed in Nani’s cross to complete his hat-trick and fired in a low shot to cap his superb performance.

It is a result that means United leapfrog title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, who do not play in the league this weekend because of their involvement in the FA Cup.

But while all seems to be coming together on the pitch for United – Rio Ferdinand was impressive on his return after three months out injured – there was disquiet off it.

Four-goal haul delights Rooney

Home fans voiced their anger at United’s owners, frequently chanting “Glazers out” in protest at the scale of the club’s debt and their perception the Americans are preventing new signings.

Whether that is the case, there does appear to be a need for United to boost their firepower to ease the burden on Rooney.

Michael Owen’s finishing was well below the required standard, the former England man doing nothing to dismiss critics who suggest his best days are long gone.

And while Rooney looked sharp, he looked equally frustrated at times – once even aiming a verbal volley at Darren Fletcher for a poor throw-in.

But United will be delighted with Rooney’s form and with the return of Ferdinand, who belied his three-month absence with an assured display – although Hull rarely tested the home defence.

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Other than a Nick Barmby effort that Edwin van der Sar turned wide, there was little threat from the visitors.

Yet United took a long time to build on their great start that saw Rooney open the scoring early on when he pounced on a rebound.

Ferdinand twice flicked efforts wide, Owen had a low shot well saved by Myhill and Rooney’s volley took a deflection to zip narrowly over the bar.

United’s best chance to add to their advantage fell to Owen, who was heavily involved in the superb build-up but shot weakly at Myhill from eight yards.

As the pattern of the match remained unchanged, Rooney sent a low shot fizzing wide and Owen glanced a header off target.

Owen made way for Dimitar Berbatov as United looked to find a more clinical edge up front.

Rooney made the difference – Brown

Instead it was Hull substitute Kamel Ghilas who almost made the biggest impact when he tuned and shot narrowly wide.

But from then on Rooney took the game by the scruff of the neck.

He was clinical in dispatching a drive after Hull failed to clear following Nani’s free-kick, and that gave United breathing space.

Rooney was equally ruthless when he converted Nani’s cross with a well-placed header.

It was end product that the striker had deserved – and eased his annoyance that had been in evidence until that point.

In the closing stages, Rooney gave himself and United even more reason to smile when he struck a low shot into the corner to add gloss to the victory.

Yet some of the home fans will leave Old Trafford bearing twisted smiles as they wonder about the long-term future of their club.

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