THREE goals. Three points. But nothing much to write home about for Manchester United boss David Moyes.
The ink on Moyes’ letter of apology to the faithful had hardly dried before United gratefully said goodbye to The Hawthorns with a much-demanded victory.
But it was not a performance to purr about with West Brom, unable to claim a victory now in seven games under Pepe Mel’s charge, cannon fodder for the misfi ring Reds.
It was as easy as 1-2-3 for Moyes’ men who have been criticised by legend Bryan Robson for too many ‘below par’ performers.
Phil Jones opened the scoring, Wayne Rooney headed the second and substitute Danny Welbeck cleverly wrapped it up.
But this was hardly the walkover the scoreline suggests as West Brom provided the tamest of opposition.
Moyes was mightily relieved and fighting all-comers in defence of substituted Robin van Persie, who Baggies boss Mel felt should have been sent off for what he thought was a second yellow card foul on Steven Reid.
Moyes said: “Our two centreforwards were very good. All round we were pleased. Overall Robin played well and so did Wayne Rooney. We scored three goals and felt as though we had goals in us.
“Their attitude had changed completely from that defeat in Olympiacos.
Robin knew exactly what was happening with the substitution. He played 90 minutes for Holland and wasn’t going to play another 90 minutes.
Mel, who refused to speculate on his own future, said:
“Their attitude had changed completely from that defeat in Olympiacos”
“A decision doesn’t depend on me. I’m just focused – it’s all part of the profession.
“I hope the players react well to playing under pressure. The trainer does because he’s used to it. We need to win only and I spoke to the chairman before the game.”
Moyes just could not relax in a first 45 minutes of high tension.
You would have thought Jones’ breakthrough would have calmed nerves.
Think again. This was another raw day of shredded emotions with the United manager losing his temper when a throw-in did not go his team’s way.
Moyes protested furiously to fourth official Mike Dean as the Baggies supporters mocked his touchline rant with chants of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’.
And Moyes erupted again this time with a legitimate claim that keeper Ben Foster and handled outside the box three minutes before the break. In between, there were moments when Moyes could take to his dugout seat.
And he was heartened when Youssouf Mulumbu was forced to clear off the line after Chris Brunt misdirected a header goalwards. Foster used his hands fairly to make a brilliant save from Rafael.
Adnan Januzaj drilled over and the United right-back got a header on target only for the Baggies’ keeper to somehow turn the effort onto the bar.
Moyes was up on his feet in the 33rd minute in celebration of the opener. Brunt took Rafael’s legs on the edge of the area, Van Persie curled in the free-kick and Jones powered his header past Foster.
Four minutes later, Brunt almost made amends with a corner met by Jonas Olsson and Claudio Yacob bundled the ball over with his head and shoulder.
Victor Anichebe swivelled superbly and shot just past the upright as West Brom desperately fought to get back on level terms with the half-time whistle stopping them in their tracks.
Zoltan Gera thumped the turf in frustration after a hurried shot straight at David de Gea United’s defence held firm before they scored their decisive second to take the stuffing out of the Baggies.
Rafael, a constant menace on the right, put in an inch-perfect cross in the 64th minute to leave Rooney with a free header into the corner.
And they could do nothing to prevent substitute Danny Welbeck easily side-footing United’s third past Foster.