West Brom 1 Man United 2
West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester United 2, The Hawthorns, English Premier League, August 14, 2011. Sir Alex Ferguson´s Manchester United kicked off their Premier League title defence with a narrow 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
Manchester United´s first team squad for the 2011-12 season contained goalkeepers David de Gea, Sam Johnstone, Anders Lindegaard, Tomasz Kuszczak, and Ben Amos; defenders Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Rafael da Silva, Sean McGinty, Phil Jones, Alberto Massacci, Rio Ferdinand, Marnick Vermijl, Tom Thorpe, Ritchie De Laet, Fabio da Silva, Michael Keane, Reece Brown, Zeki Fryers, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling; midfielders Oliveira Anderson, Ji-sung Park, Michael Carrick, Danny Drinkwater, Ashley Young, Luis Nani, Ryan Giggs, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson, Robbie Brady, Davide Petrucci, Paul Pogba, Matty James, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Oliver Norwood, Ravel Morrison, Larnell Cole, Jesse Lingard; and forwards Michael Owen, Will Keane, Danny Welbeck, Josh King, Tiago Correia, Mame Biram Diouf, Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda, Wayne Rooney, and Javier Hernandez. De Gea, Jones, and Young had joined Manchester United during the summer, while Edwin van der Sar, Conor Devlin, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Oliver Gill, Paul Scholes, Gabriel Obertan, Owen Hargreaves, and Nicky Ajose had left the Old Trafford club.
Defending Barclays Premier League Champions Manchester United kicked off the 2011-12 campaign with a fixture against Roy Hodgson´s West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns Stadium. The Red Devils came into the season opener on the back of a closely contested 3-2 Community Shield win over crosstown adversaries Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, whereas West Bromwich had drawn 1-1 against Italian Serie A outfit Parma in a friendly encounter at The Hawthorns. Although Manchester United were without key players Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Antonio Valencia who were all sidelined due to various injuries, Sir Alex Ferguson side were strong favourites to defeat The Throstles despite playing away from home, and the guests dominated the first period from the first kick with decent possession and passing play. And it came as no surprise to anyone when England international striker Wayne Rooney opened the scoring account for Manchester United in the 13th minute of the tie as he accepted a slick pass from former Aston Villa winger Ashley Young inside the eighteen-yard area and hammered home to give the visitors from Manchester the lead. The Black Country club nevertheless hit back when Republic of Ireland international Shane Long managed to equalise for Hodgson´s men eight minutes ahead of the half-time break thanks to a mistake from £18.3 million summer signing David de Gea. It was a blatantly poor piece of goalkeeping from the previous Atletico Madrid netminder who had indeed got off to a very difficult start to his Manchester United career.
In the second half of the tussle, West Bromwich Albion were enthusiastic and positive about their task, and the match switched from end to end with both teams having efforts at goal. Following 65 minutes of action, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to replace Danny Welbeck with battering ram striker Dimitar Berbatov whose pace and power made Manchester United´s attack more direct. Somehow West Bromwich were still level, and the home supporters started to believe in their team, but in the end The Baggies were worn down by Manchester United. With only nine minutes remaining on the watch of referee Michael Jones, a low cross ball from new boy Ashley Young eventually found its way into the goal via West Bromwich right fullback Steven Reid, and even though the desperate hosts pushed hard forward during the closing stages to try to force an equaliser, the United defence held firm for the remainder of the clash. And to sum up the game, Manchester United were in a different class from the beginning to the end, and the 2-1 triumph over Albion was a great way to begin the 2011-12 season for the Old Trafford players who no doubt had their eyes set on yet another championship title. West Bromwich Albion Team: Ben Foster, Jonas Olsson, Paul Scharner, Gabriel Tamas, Steven Reid, Nicky Shorey, Chris Brunt, James Morrison, Youssef Mulumbu, Somen Tchoyi, Shane Long. Substitutes: Marc-Antoine Fortune, Simon Cox, Craig Dawson, Gonzalo Jara, George Thorne, Graeme Dorrans, Marton Fulop. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Fabio da Silva, Oliveira Anderson, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Luis Nani, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck. Substitutes: Ji-sung Park, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov, Anders Lindegaard.