WAYNE ROONEY is back.
By NEIL CUSTIS
When the crowd rose to him as he exited last night’s competition after 77 minutes, it was in appreciation of a masterclass.
Not of goalscoring but passing, movement, creation — and no lack of effort.
Everything we did not see in the season opener against Everton when he huffed and puffed and was then axed.
A month out with a gashed leg has seen him in the gym and getting fit.
Last night he was more like his old self.
His backside has been kicked and he has responded.
Rooney helped Manchester United win a cracking Capital One Cup tie thanks to goals from Anderson after 44 minutes and Tom Cleverley in the 58th.
Papiss Cisse pulled one back a minute after coming on as a sub with a close range 61st minute header and rattled the bar on 81 minutes with an overhead kick.
But the home side deserved their victory in a game they had largely dominated.
Rooney was like a boy who had just been given his ball back after being naughty.
Given it back, he just did not want to let it go.
He was everywhere last night.
At one point he charged back from upfront to help his defence out passing four teammates on the way to do so.
To witness his pass in the 28th minute was to see a piece of genius.
From deep inside his own half under pressue he turned a drilled a 60 yard ball right into the path of Danny Welbeck.
This was no hopeful punt but a driven ball right into the slot he wanted it.
The supply allowed Welbeck to burst away before releasing a powerful low shot that was well saved one-handed by Rob Elliot.
Rooney had a part in both of United’s goals all be it just by throwing the ball in for the first on 44 minutes.
Darren Fletcher, making his first start since November, picked it up and fed Anderson who produced a burst of pace rarely seen from the Brazilian.
Then from 25 yards he released a thunderbolt which crashed in off the left-hand upright.
The second goal was Manchester United at their very best breaking from back to front with swift one touch passing with Rooney orchestrating it down the middle.
It all finished with Welbeck finding best pal Cleverley who curled in a low shot through a crowd of players.
Manager Alex Ferguson had not been happy with Cleverley’s first-half miss when left one-on-one and made that clear at the break.
So he showed great strength of character to make amends with his first goal for the club in 19 appearances.
Indeed that 34th minute miss was the only blip in Cleverley’s display.
His movement and touch helps United to attack with pace and he must be edging towards being a regular name on the team sheet.
While United largely dominated this game Newcastle played their full part in it as they looked for their first win here in fourty years.
An inspired double substitution brought them back into the match.
Pardew brought on winger Shane Ferguson and Papiss Cisse in the 61st minute and sixty seconds later they combined to get a goal back.
Ferguson provided the cross from the left and Cisse the close-range header in.
Then with nine minutes to go Cisse almost had the equaliser when his overhead kick beat David De Gea but came back off the bar.
Ferguson changed his whole starting line-up from the weekend’s victory over Liverpool but the football against a weakend Newcastle team was top draw at times.
Fletcher’s return was a major bonus.
He had come on as a late substitute against Galatasaray but this was a full 90 minutes.
Back in November he was diagnosed with a chronic bowel condition which left him sapped of strength and bed-ridden.
It was feared at one stage he may never play again.
But Fletcher never gave up on his dream of returning to action and last night he lead the team out as captain and played well in a deep lying role in front of the back four.
There was another big winner on the night.
Mick Tuncliffe made a £100 bet at 100-1 when his son Ryan was nine that he would one day play for Manchester United.
Last night in the 77th minute 19-year-old Ryan came on.
He was the 60th player Ferguson has given a debut too in this competition.
Next up Chelsea.
After losing the opening game of this season United have now won six on the trot and are still to hit top gear.
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
STAR MAN – TOM CLEVERLEY
MAN UTD: De Gea 6, Vermijl 7, Keane 7, Wootton 7, Buttner 6, Fletcher 7, CLEVERLEY 9, Anderson 8, Welbeck 6, Rooney 8, Hernandez 7. Subs: Powell (Rooney) 6, Tunnicliffe (Vermijl) 6, Brady (Buttner) 6. Not used: Johnstone, Evans, Lingard, King.
NEWCASTLE: Elliot 7, Perch 5, Tavernier 6, Williamson 7, Coloccini 6, Obertan 5, Tiote 7, Gosling 5, Marveaux 6, Vuckic 6, Shola Ameobi 6. Subs: Ferguson (Coloccini) 7, Cisse (Vuckic) 7, Bigirimana (Tiote) 6. Not used: Harper, Anita, Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi. Booked: Tiote, Bigirimana.