Man Utd again pulled out a trademark late winner and for the second weekend in a row bailed out David De Gea, who Sir Alex has tapped to fill the giant shoes of Edwin Van Der Sar.
This time it was a low angled shot by debutant Shane Long which De Gea should have safely covered. Last week, it was Edin Dzeko's belter that got past him. If one can hypothesize, De Gea seems to have a problem predicting shots on either side of him. He's far more comfortable when he's reflexive and in the air. Whether these are growing pains or a structural issue it is worthy of exploration by opponents.
Before Long's goal changed the equation it looked like this was going to be an easy Utd win and in the 13th minute Wayne Rooney's lovely backheel pass found Ashley Young
cutting in and finding Rooney again. He corralled the ball and with Gabriel Tamas out of position turned and shot with his left foot between the legs of the defender and out of reach of an unsighted Ben Foster.
Rooney's fast becoming an expert on high percentage shots only pulling the trigger when he's sure. Unfortunately, the same principle does not apply to Nani who was profligate. West Brom got back into the game as Utd eased off and Somen Tchoyi with his huge frame filling the screen batted aside defenders to pass the ball to Long who showed some patience and nerve to release a low angled drive which De Gea barely got his hands to for a much debated blunder.
The second half was underwhelming on both ends and Utd were further set back by the injury departures of Vidic and then Rio Ferdinand twenty minutes later. Sir Alex went to his bench and out trotted Jonny Evans followed by Phil Jones leaving Utd looking quite green at the back. There was further bad news for Utd with Rafael, Fabio's twin brother set to miss the next 10 weeks with a dislocated shoulder.
West Brom sensing an opening had one of their brightest spells but against the run of play Young, the brightest of Utd's debutantes justified Sir Alex' faith in him as he lost Chris Brunt with his change of pace and direction and in a flash drove in a low angled shot which was deflected into goal by Steven Reid.
This was not the best Utd display and at times they looked short of ideas and cutting edge. But Utd have won before despite playing some underwhelming football and so this result was not unexpected. It fits well into the narrative of successful teams always finding ways to win. West Brom showed some promising touches and should consider themselves unlucky to have lost.
Before we depart let us acknowledge the classy gesture of both clubs wearing black armbands in remembrance of the three British Asian men who tragically died in the recent riots, one whose father Tariq Jahan became the face of racial reconciliation with his heartfelt plea for national amity. Birmingham like other cities were left scarred by the mindless orgy of violence and looting that enveloped England this past week. Any gesture however symbolic that furthers the healing process needs to be appreciated.